Houston’s Charitable Feeding Restrictions See New Legal Challenge

A religious challenge to the ordinance may land it in the Texas Supreme Court

The rule was adopted in 2012 and requires groups who want to feed more than five people at a time to register with the city, take food preparation courses, get permission to be at a location, among other requirements.

But since the ordinance passed, many Houston groups and even a city council member have tried to repeal it.

The city said the rule curtails littering and other health concerns. They also said it helps keep a consistent schedule so there is not a surplus or shortage of food on the streets on any particular day.

Houston community organizer Phillip Paul Bryant is suing over the ordinance.

“This is more so an approach of just driving down the street and seeing someone digging in a dumpster, it’s kind of hard to tell them to go somewhere on a particular day, go somewhere on a Tuesday, you just want to help them right there because you can see they’re hungry,” Bryant said.

Bryant is contesting the rule on religious grounds. Bryant’s attorney has filed a motion that, if ruled on by appeals court, could put a stop to the restrictions.

The attorney said he expects the motion to be bumped to the Texas Supreme Court.