Groups face high fees to feed homeless, people in need

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Nearly two years after they started giving out free food in city parks, Punks with Lunch got an email from the city’s Parks and Recreation office saying they would need to pay $200 for a permit and insurance to hand out food and supplies in public.

The punks aren’t the only ones who were hit with the notice.

The Lansing chapter of Food Not Bombs got a similar note in 2017 after giving away cut-up fruit in Reutter Park. One of their members says it’s nerve-wracking to get hit with such a high dollar amount

“It’s a little scary to think about,” Nathan Hallman says. “Obviously we don’t want to get in trouble for doing the same kind of thing [Punks with Lunch are] doing, and it’s just kind of another thing to worry about, another headache, when it’s already kind of a headache to organize all those, all that food, all that stuff. It’s just another thing to worry about. It’s unnecessary.”

Parks and recreation director Brett Kashchinske says they’re not trying to get in the way of feeding the homeless. Instead, they want to make sure everyone who uses the park is doing it properly, and that the city knows about what’s happening in public spaces.

“Whether they’re feeding the homeless or whatever events they have in the park, that we’re treating everybody the same,” he says. “And so if we’re not doing that we contact them saying ‘We have heard that you are having an event in the park. we just need to know what is it.'”

Punks with Lunch says they still play on giving out food Saturday morning at Reutter Park.

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