Council amends food safety ordinance - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Council amends food safety ordinance

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The City Council voted 5 to 1 in favor of amending the food establishment ordinance. This comes one month after the controversial issue when a couple was told they were not allowed to feed the homeless without a food permit.

Councilman Todd Klein was the driving force to clarify the definition of "food establishment". In the end, he voted against the proposed amendment. He says they are now back at square one. While other councilmembers just want some regulation so people don't get sick.

"The city wanted nothing to do with the homeless whatsoever and now they want to protect them to be under their jurisdiction," said Marcie Luger, fined for serving food to the homeless.

Marcie Luger says she just wants to help the homeless. Thursday she went to the meeting for answers, but like Klein left disappointed.

"It's the worst of all worlds. We are now giving greater exposure to people that are engaged in private communal events," said Klein.

Klein's amendment simply states the citizens of Lubbock can freely serve food in the public without charging and without a permit.

"In the long history of the United States of America, we haven't had people go by and assert themselves as agents of the government into a picnic. We should not start now," said Klein.

However, Councilwoman Karen Gibson changed Klein's amendment. Her provisions add that the person serving food has to store it at a certain temperature, provide hand sanitizer and gloves, be subject to inspection by health officers at any time and display a sign with the words "This food was prepared in a kitchen that is not inspected by any health inspector or health agency."

"I don't think at a moment someone is going to go through Jones stadium with a meat thermometer," said Klein.

Because of the new amendment, the debate got heated. 

"Todd you are not listening, that is only feeding the general public including the homeless or indigent at no charge," said Councilwoman Karen Gibson.

Gibson says her change makes sure that any indigent individual is allowed to have the same food preparation protections as anyone else.

The biggest question Klein had was how would you enforce the new amendment?

"If they want to bend the rules then they can absolutely do that," said Gibson.

Klein says there is no rule to bend and people can be free to picnic in the park.

Despite the decision, Luger says she will continue to feed the homeless every Monday in the park.

"This isn't right. Either you are on this side of the fence or this side of the fence. They are going to keep people from feeding the homeless and trying to take care of them," said Luger.

The council will vote on the second reading of the ordinance at their next meeting August 25th. That will have to pass to become law.

Klein wants to carve out some regulations and encourages the public to speak out.

Copyright 2011.  KCBD NewsChannel 11.

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