Christian Ministries ‘Shocked’ After Alabama Police Shut Down Food Distribution to Homeless


WoodBIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Two Christian ministries in Alabama are dismayed at the actions of local law enforcement after they were recently stopped from feeding the homeless due to a new ordinance centering around food trucks.

“I’m just so totally shocked that the city is turning their back on the homeless like this,” Pastor Rick Wood told local television station WBMA. “It’s like they want to chase them out of the city. And the homeless can’t help the position they’re in. They need help.”

Wood, who pastors The Lord’s House of Prayer in Oneonta, has been feeding the poor and homeless in Birmingham every Saturday for the past six years. He delivers hot dogs and bottled water from a truck that features a decal citing Matthew 25:35-40, which speaks of Jesus’ command to care for the hungry.

However, Wood says that he was approached by Birmingham police two weeks ago as he was conducting an outreach in Linn Park and was told to cease operations because he did not have a permit. The cost for a permit, which must be obtained from the Health Department, is between $300 and $500.

Reports state that police had referred to an ordinance surrounding food trucks, which was enacted when area restaurants complained that some vendors were taking away their business. The new law, which was passed in December, regulates when and where food trucks can park. It mentions nothing of meals that are distributed for free to the homeless.

“That makes me so mad,” Wood stated. “These people are hungry. They’re starving. They need help from people. They can’t afford to buy something from a food truck.”

Don Williams of Bridge Builders Ministries told reporters that he was likewise shut down by police recently for the same reason.

  • Connect with Christian News

“[A] week ago we were serving about 75 homeless people, and Birmingham police showed up and starting barking orders that this food service be shut down,” he explained. “I thought, ‘Is this America or is this Russia?’ We are here serving people who for the most part can’t do it for themselves.”

Birmingham Mayor William Bell is upholding the new law and its application to the ministries, stating that organization and consistency are important, including in regard to feeding the hungry.

“What’s the quality of that hot dog? Where did it come from?” he asked. “We want everybody to meet the need of the homeless, but there has to be some consistency.”

But Wood and Williams state that they are going to fight the ordinance and will continue to feed the homeless without a permit.

“If we don’t [fight it], the government will be empowered to run over us just like they have been on a national level,” Williams said. “And I’m just not going to sit down, play dead and roll over.”

Photo: WBMA

ABC 33/40 – Birmingham News, Weather, Sports 

Print Friendly

  • Webb

    Police are fast becoming the new liberal Nazi storm troopers. Leftist thugs whose job it is to suppress the freedoms of those whose ideas, beliefs, or thoughts clash with the ruling atheist leftists.

    • http://ChristianNews L. D.

      The word of a God tells us that “mischief is framed by a law”. Law and order has always been used to club free people into submission: in the Old Testament, Nebuchadnezzar’s devious counsellors framed a law that there should be no prayer, and all must bow to the king’s image, in order to subvert Daniel. Nothing’s change. Unjust laws are framed everyday for the love of money and power.

      This is all headed somewhere. It’s a demonic strategy, “for we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but spiritual wickedness in high places”. These things are being demonically inspired, and they are happening across the nations.

      Here’s a reminder for all the faithful: “pray for ALL those that are in authority that you may live a peaceable life”. And, if you have been, continue valiantly. Than you.

  • Jay

    Gotta give righteous props to “Wood and Williams” to directly confront the city ordinance through peaceful civic disobedience. :)

  • WorldGoneCrazy

    There is an easy solution to this: have donors to these ministries show up and get their wallets out and pay (truthfully, pay) for the hot dogs and drinks being distributed to the homeless. Use the donations for the permits and to help pay for the food. It should be really easy to create a schedule list for donors to show up when the distributions are being made.

    Do NOT deceive: the payments should be sincere ones at a reasonable price, not to be refunded to the donors. They can be in lieu of what the donors contribute on a monthly basis. Many financial donors also contribute their time to homeless ministries.

    Alternatively, set up a transportation service to get the homeless to their nearest shelters, where they can be fed in a kitchen.

  • Bret Bourg

    More from the Obamanation crowd to ensure that the government alone has the power to dictate to us all how we should treat our neighbors. I am no biblical scholar, but I don’t recall seeing anything in that book requiring a permit allowing us to be our brothers keeper. Wood and Williams, keep up the good fight, back down to no one. What you do serves a higher power than anyone on this earth can wield.

  • yoitsmedude

    I bet if they were muslims nothing would be said!

    • Jay

      You may be correct in some crowds yoitsmedude, but all I can offer you is that people in general (including Muslims) deserve human rights, mercy, charity….

  • Bill Menzie

    I am visiting ,from Ft Wayne In, The Open Door Church and was going to go down and feed the homeless this week but does not seem likely. It is a sad day and worse to come.

  • Slavik

    I see Don Williams has no notion of Russia. There is more religious freedom in Russia rahter than in the US. You can freely feed homeless and tell them about Jesus here. Don’t believe everything on your TV.

  • Sheri

    Why not feed them out of their churches? Have a Sabbath (Saturday) service with a “Pot Luck” meal afterward. Happens all the time – no permit needed.

  • C.P. Steinmetz

    So, why not get the permit? Is their unwillingness based upon the fact that they are giving potentially unsafe food to the homeless?

    Rather than get on a high horse about religion, how about focusing on safe food for the homeless, which transcends the issue they are using to divert criticism from their efforts.

    Methinks they protest too much.

  • A.M.

    I think it’s pretty weird that the Mayor wants to lecture the ministries on consistency when there is NOTHING CONSISTENT about being homeless unless you count the negative effects it has on the human spirit. I agree with the bulk of the comments made that organizing all charity according to the dictates of local government is leading us down the road of despair. How can you worry about what’s in a hot dog when hot dogs are ALL UNHEALTHY MEAT PRODUCTS to begin with? The fact remains that powerful little local minions are just as dangerous to the general public as the ones in BIG GOVERNMENT. The homeless people weren’t going to eat at the locally authorized food trucks and restaurants anyway so there’s no reason to worry about anybody taking anything away from those established businesses.

    • C.P. Steinmetz

      “dictates of local government.” Does that mean you want no government oversight at any level?

      Surely you jest. You see no difference between a hot dog that isn’t good for you and a spoiled hotdog? And it is the ministry that is given them hot dogs by choice, not the city making them give hot dogs.

      So, as the cost of the permit is not prohibitive, it must be the quality – or lack thereof – that the ministries do not want to defend. Out of date meat, out of date bread, unsanitary conditions, etc. come to mind.

      In spite of all the hand wringing, this is a safety issue that applies to all who provide food. This is not a religious issue.