Jefferson Co. Health Dept. to issue permits for non-profits who feed the homeless

Source: File video
Source: File video

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The Jefferson County Health Department says they will issue permits that will allow churches and other non-profits to continue to feed the homeless.

Last year, the Birmingham City Council passed a food truck ordinance that had the unintended consequence of impacting groups feeding the homeless in public areas across the city.

City leaders said earlier this week that they never intended the food truck ordinance to interfere with non-profits' work. However, last week Bridge Builders Ministries said that they were shut down by police while trying to serve meals.

They were given conflicting information about whether they would need a permit from the city and county health department in order to continue their efforts.

"It's been somewhat of an arduous battle over the last several weeks but the sun comes up in the morning and it has come up today," said Don Williams with Bridge Builders Ministries.

Don Lupo with the City of Birmingham said the effect the ordinance had an "unintended" effect on those who want to help the homeless.

"Coming out of that the mayor said, 'Let's get it done. Let's fix it.' And that's what we've done today," Lupo said.

As of Thursday morning Lupo said the health department is now allowing those who want to feed the homeless an exemption from the food truck ordinance. But they still have to go through the health department to get a permit.

Even so, Lupo said the health department doesn't have to give everyone who wants to help a permit. But for people who are able to get clearance he said they're safe from breaking any laws.

"As far as getting that exemption from the health department and know that you're not going to be bothered when you're serving they can be assured that that's not going to happen," said Lupo.

Copyright 2014 WBRC. All rights reserved.