San Diego Activists Protest Ban on Feeding Homeless in a Defiant “Feed-In”

Volunteers from Food Not Bombs and Greenpeace San Diego recently hosted a 'feed-in" in the city of El Cajon — Their actions were in protest of a recent ban on providing food in public areas to those living with homelessness.

Renato Zacchia Photography

With one of the highest poverty rates in San Diego County, Council members from the city of El Cajon recently voted 5-0 to ban feeding people experiencing homeless in parks and other public spaces around the city. The ban was pushed forward under the pretext of combatting the area’s Hepatitis A outbreak — however, homeless rights advocates argue that Hepatitis A is not spread by community and religious organizations offering food, but when the local government fails to provide adequate public bathrooms and hand-washing facilities for the community at large. To protest this unjust ruling, local residents organized a “feed-in”, defying the ban by distributing food to those experiencing homelessness within the community. Greenpeace San Diego supported and took part in this event and below is a short recap and interview with event organizer Dash McTavish, from Food Not Bombs.

Volunteers set up tables of food in Wells Park, defying the recent 5-0 ban.

Greenpeace San Diego: Can you tell us what happened last Saturday?

Dash McTavish: Members of our community came together to share a meal in protest of unjust city ordinances restricting citizens from helping each other depending on their housing situation.

GP: Greenpeace has a long history of using civil disobedience and peaceful protest to fight for environmental justice. What motivated you to use this specific protest tactic for your campaign?

The ban was pushed forward under the pretext of combatting the area’s Hepatitis A outbreak — however, homeless rights advocates argue that Hepatitis A is not spread by offering food, but when the local government fails to provide adequate public bathrooms and hand-washing facilities for the community at large.

DM: Food Not Bombs has had a long-standing history of fighting for food rights. When we saw the ordinance pass we knew we had to stand in solidarity with those who would be affected by it.

GP: Do you plan on hosting more of these events? If so, when is the next one? DM: Yes. There will be continued efforts by Food Not Bombs in conjunction with other community members and activists. We have an event planned for December 22 and will support all other actions in El Cajon. You can also help by signing the petition to break the ban on feeding the homeless here.

GP: Do you have any advice for folks like yourself, who are trying to make a difference in their local communities?

DM: You are a valid part of your community. Speak up. Be heard. Seek each other out. You are not alone. Work with groups in alignment with your cause.

Written by: Justin D’Angona


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