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.

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