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On September 18, 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB-2178, making it the law in California.

We described AB-2178’s new restrictions on the ability of volunteer and non-profit community groups to share free food:  https://sffnb.org/2018/09/14/call-governor-jerry-brown-to-veto-ab-2178-which-would-restrict-our-right-to-share-free-food/

From the text of AB-2178:

The bill would define that operation as an operation for food service to a consumer solely for providing charity, that is conducted by a nonprofit charitable organization, as defined, and whose food service is limited to any of specified functions. The bill would specify that the operation would not include a temporary food facility or a nonprofit charitable temporary food facility, as specified. The bill would prohibit the operation from providing food service unless it has registered with the local enforcement agency, with specified exceptions involving performance of a certain function or operation in conjunction with a food bank, and would require a limited service charitable feeding operation subject to registration, or a food bank, if applicable, to submit certain information to the agency.

In short, AB-2178 would require groups, like San Francisco Food Not Bombs, to register with the local enforcement agency in order to continue sharing free home-cooked meals with anyone who wants one as we have been doing without any incidents or problems for many years.

The California Legislature and Governor Brown have made our sharing of food a misdemeanor crime:  “By creating a new crime and by imposing duties on local officials, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.

Food Not Bombs does not define itself as a “charitable organization.”  We share food in order to fulfill a basic human need currently unmet by US society.  In addition, as the name indicates, Food Not Bombs is a criticism and protest of the grossly misguided priorities of the political economy.

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The California Assembly and Senate have nearly unanimously passed AB-2178, which would impose new restrictions on individuals and community groups, like San Francisco Food Not Bombs, that share free meals.  If the bill becomes law, we would have to pay to register with local authorities in order to continue to provide mutual aid by sharing free food that would otherwise be discarded.  In general, Food Not Bombs groups are entirely volunteer with almost zero budgets.

Here is the text of AB 2178:  https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180AB2178

Hunger Action Los Angeles has provided an excellent explanation of AB 2178, including the following important action that you can take now (http://www.hungeractionla.org/news_update_Sep_6th_2018#cgtv090618):

Please call the Governor’s office at 916 445 2841 and ask that AB 2178 be vetoed. After pressing the language selection you can press 6 to speak to a representative.

You can use these talking points:

This bill is potentially a weapon for those who want to erase the homeless from the streets and punish people who are helping the homeless.

  • Volunteer groups feeding the homeless do not have the time to register with a local enforcement agency, nor pay the fees that are allowed by this bill. Adding a layer of bureaucracy on to the activities of these groups will eventually result in them shutting down altogether, choking off one other non-governmental outlet for the hungry and increasing government burden further.
  • Volunteer groups feeding the poor and homeless pose little food safety risk. There has never been a report of food poisoning or other illness due to their activity. These groups have operated for decades.
  • These groups already follow strong private food safety practices. They are operated by people who are enthusiastic about cooking and food service because they know how to do it. They know to keep food at the proper temperature and to handle it with proper accessories (gloves), storage and transport equipment.
  • These groups are filling a critical gap, and criminalizing their volunteerism will only add to the misery that the state itself is struggling to find the resources to address. Volunteer groups that cook and provide nutritious meals would be sorely missed and not replaced in the community if they were eliminated by force of a new law based on the current version of AB 2178. We need MORE help for the homeless, not restrictions on kinds of help based on the fact that they come from “unregistered” sources.

KPFA’s Rude Awakening show discussed AB-2178 on September 10, 2018.  You can listen to the archived broadcast here:  https://kpfa.org/player/?audio=293746

Thank you for asking Governor Brown to veto AB-2178.  Please spread the word.

https://popularresistance.org/court-affirms-right-of-homeless-persons-to-not-be-punished-for-sleeping-in-public/

Boise, Idaho – The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that homeless persons cannot be punished for sleeping outside in the absence of adequate alternatives in Martin v. Boise (formerly Bell v. Boise), a lawsuit challenging Boise, Idaho’s ban on sleeping in public….

This case is part of a nationwide movement against the criminalization of homelessness, spearheaded by the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty and more than 700 groups and individuals who have endorsed the Housing Not Handcuffs Campaign.

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