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Feeding the Hungry in Santa Monica

February 11, 1993

America has a reputation among nations for its openness and generosity to those in need. This is reflected in the Marshall Plan after World War II, and in the inscription at the Statue of Liberty--"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free . . ."

Unfortunately this spirit of generosity towards the homeless is becoming harder to find in Santa Monica. There the City Council has approved an ordinance forbidding the passing out of food to the hungry in public places, including city parks. It seems that we are to be free to feed pigeons but not people. Ostensibly, the city's own indoor feeding program eliminates the need for private efforts.

In reality, the city's program is totally inadequate to meet the needs of the growing population of hungry and homeless, and the intent of the ordinance is to starve out the poor who have come to take refuge in our midst.

A law that prohibits one citizen from helping another in need is iniquitous and contrary to the American spirit. It should be struck down before we find ourselves filling the already crowded prisons with those whose only crime is to feed the hungry.

MICHAEL J. BRENNAN

Los Angeles

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