After outcry led to the tabling of a proposed Little Rock ordinance that would have restricted feeding large groups of people on public grounds, the city is about to embark on a trial plan for getting food to the homeless community.
On Tuesday, the Little Rock Board of Directors heard from the city's Volunteer Committee on Group Feeding that had spent six weeks studying the issue. The committee recommends relocating most feeding operations to the grounds of the Jericho Way Resource Center in southeast Little Rock, with transportation to and from downtown.
The plan, which is yet to be finalized, calls for transportation from downtown to the Jericho Way Center where unsheltered residents will be able to obtain meals from charity groups beneath a large outside tent.
Jordan Johnson, the chair of the 15-member committee, says the plan will face several logistical challenges, which he lists off:
“When should the buses run? Do we need tables and chairs? If so, who’s going to provide that? Where are we going to get the tent? How much is that going to cost the city? Do we need security? All those sorts of things. How are we going to get word out to the homeless community? And ultimately, how are we going to track the success?”
Johnson says the committee is made up a diverse array of individuals, including business leaders, homeless advocates and people who either are or have been homeless. He says the committee and the city have agreed to finalize and implement a plan within 30 days.
“We’re trying to make lemonade from lemons,” he says. “We avoid the ordinance, but we’re also trying to use this as an opportunity to link up those who are serving the homeless by feeding—which is extremely admirable and appreciated—to those who are also offering additional services.”
Johnson says the committee’s next meeting will take place at the Clinton Presidential Center at 8 a.m. on Friday, July 14.