Twice a month, Rick Wood, a pastor at The Lord’s House of Prayer in Oneonta, Alabama, gets in his truck and drives around Birmingham with more than a hundred hot dogs and bottles of water, handing them out to the homeless. Wood has been serving those in need for the past six years because he wants to put Matthew 25:35-40 — “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,” a scripture verse he has plastered on the side of his truck — into action.
But last month, Wood was stopped from handing out food by local police because he was in violation of a new city ordinance, passed in December, that regulates food trucks. The new regulation requires food trucks to get a permit, which can cost as much as $500. Though the ordinance is specifically targeted at retail food vendors, rather than charities, the city nevertheless used it to block Wood.
He was livid. “That makes me so mad,” Wood said in an interview with ABC 33/40 News. “These people are hungry. They’re starving. They need help from people. They can’t afford to buy something from a food truck.”
The pastor accused Birmingham of wanting “to chase them out of the city.”
ABC 33/40 News’ video has more:
Birmingham is not the only city to shut down groups that hand out meals to the homeless. From St. Louis to Raleigh to Philadelphia toOrlando, city governments have implemented new restrictions on charity groups that feed the homeless. Los Angeles is considering a similar measure.
Back in Birmingham, Wood has defiantly vowed to keep serving food to the homeless. “The homeless can’t help the position they’re in,” he said. “They need help.”