Not On My Sidewalk: G.U.T.S. suppers in trouble

Monday, January 16, 2006

  • Out of sight, out of mind?

    Out of sight, out of mind?

Written by G.U.T.S.

On Wednesday, January 11th, 2006, an inspector from the Public Health Department came to announce that the City of Guelph is threatening to shut down the free downtown suppers organized by the Guelph Union o Tenants and Supporters.

Three times a week, there is a free picnic in front of the Legal Clinic on the corner of Wyndham St. N. and MacDonnell foranyone that wants to come and participate. We reclaim public space and share food together.

The City of Guelph, downtown businesses and the Downtown Board of Management have been trying for some time to gentrify the downtown core by harassing and removing poor people and anyone considered undesirable. The City is using Public Health as an excuse to stop these communal picnics. The Public Health Inspector indicated he is acting at the request of a couple of downtown restaurants, including Frank'n'Steins. This is clearly not a public health issue – the businesses don't like people getting free meals. The restaurants have tried unsuccessfully in the past to get the meals moved or stopped. In the process, people have been beaten up, harassed and attacked.

Public Health should not be trying to shut down an event which makes free food accessible to dozens of people. Many people don't have enough to eat and the regular picnics enable us all to come together, help ourselves to food, eat and chat together. If Public Health were actually concerned about people's health, they would be encouraging and supporting such free meals. Public Health should turn their attention to those responsible for the malnutrition of social assistance recipients, to the people that have cut the Special Diet program for people on social assistance.

The City is pretending that the issue is our lack of a certified kitchen. We believe this is is only a smokescreen and not the real issue. The City does not like poor people visibly on their streets and this is but another attempt at gentrifying thedowntown.

We refuse to disappear. Anyone who wants to show their support and enjoy a free dinner with us is welcome to come out. We ask as many people as possible to come and show their oppositionto the City's ongoing attempts to force poor people out of sight.

Food is a right.
Fight to win!

Comment below. (We reserve the right to edit comments for content)

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  1. Posted by: on Jan 16, 2006 @ 4:45pm

    Public health is completely right in this case. It is far better for people to starve than for them to eat food prepared in an uncertified kitchen.

  2. Posted by: matt on Jan 16, 2006 @ 8:39pm

    what? i'm sorry luke, but i visit the place they make the food often to hang out and help, and it's really all good. there's far too great a scare about 'certification'. it's just like you eating at your own house. no one's going to get poisoned.
    going hungry each day and feeding one's body low-quality food is far worse a fate than eating food made with care in someone's kitchen. we need to get back to a place of trust in our society. these people are compassionate enough to put so much of their time and energy to getting food from all over town and making it themselves, and serving it three days a week downtown all year round, not to mention doing so much other anti-poverty work. there is something seriously wrong with us if we can't trust people like this.

  3. Posted by: on Jan 16, 2006 @ 11:03pm

    I think "luke!" was being.... satirical.

    Obviously, it is far better to die of food poisoning than starvation. ;)

  4. Posted by: on Jan 17, 2006 @ 10:33am

    Hannah has me pegged, Matt.

    Sorry for the confusion!

  5. Posted by: Heather on Jan 18, 2006 @ 2:47pm

    Part of the issue could be that the members of GUTS are getting food they're serving from dumpsters. Page 10 of the Peak outlines that pretty clearly.

  6. Posted by: on Jan 19, 2006 @ 6:30pm

    I really don't think the businesses are against free meals, I mean theres only 3 a week right?

    They are probably more concerned with the unsightly loitering and homelessness problem that is being brought to their storefronts.

    I think it is really petty that they would complain, but the health regulations should trump free meals I feel. We shouldn't throw away the law.

    Perhaps the place could bring itself up to code or find a way arround the law by having it in a private location.

  7. Posted by: on Jan 19, 2006 @ 7:26pm

    I haven't heard anyone call to throw away the law. What we're seeing is the application of a law in a context that it is unsuited to.

    People living in poverty face the dangers of hunger, malnourishment, and starvation. Is the danger of serving food from an uncertified kitchen actually greater than these other dangers?

  8. Posted by: John h on Jan 23, 2006 @ 1:08am

    Out of curiosity how many people have actually passed away from starvation here in Guelph?

  9. Posted by: concerns: on Jan 24, 2006 @ 4:10pm

    "If Public Health were actually concerned about people's health, they would be encouraging and supporting such free meals." If Public Health were actually concerned, you would still have to certify your kitchen. Public Health's role is to ensure food safety standards across the board so that the public, including the homeless in this case, are eating safely prepared food. Whether or not business interests called on Public Health, the role of public health standards is indisputable.
    Its a simple fact that Public Health can't turn their attention to the people that have cut the Special Diet program for people on social assistance.

    "We believe this is is only a smokescreen and not the real issue." "smokescreen" implies that its not the real issue.
    Public Health standards as a means of gentrifying the downtown?
    Its possible to Focus your attack on business interests and their control of downtown space while addressing the legitimate concerns of public health.
    Lastly, you serve dumpstered food. there is an undeniable danger in doing so which you are not shouldering solely yourselves given that you share the food.

  10. Posted by: george on Jan 27, 2006 @ 10:10pm

    your right im not suprised. i voted 'no' in the election because there was nobody who was right wing running...actually...I may be mistaken but I think there may have been...but he got kicked out of the race so it didn't matter. probably shouldn't have voted so that quorum wouldn't have been reached...actually... I don't think quorum was reached for some questions...but...then the rules would change and spoiled ballots would be counted wouldn't they. Oh well guess you can't win em all or any for that matter

  11. Posted by: george on Jan 27, 2006 @ 10:13pm

    if your wondering that post was supposed to be under "Alas, Poor Yorick: Students are too stupid to vote". I'm not sure how I got on this page. maybe its irony and i am too stupid... haha

  12. Posted by: Hippie Eater on Jan 30, 2006 @ 10:44pm

    SOOO MANY PEOPLE HAVE OFFERED TO SELL ME CRACK DOWNTOWN!!! It's fact! Let's do a survey on this...

    Face it - we're not 'cleaning out the poor'. We're trying to make the downtown core safe for women and children. Remember when it was their space too? Frankly, many of the people who are eating at the GUTS buffet are scary and disturbed. I'm a young woman who just doesn't feel safe downtown, and if you want to have a hobo rally with free dumpster food that even the health inspector thinks is questionable, do it somewhere that isn't going to kill downtown by temporarily turning it into a hobo circus.

    Here's a suggestion - why not do it in North Guelph - it's already pretty sketchy up there already. You could probably protest capitalism and industry at the same time! Two birds with one stone... Who needs taxes to pay for your social rehab anyways? Stupid industry...

    GUTS -> nobody likes you. I suggest starting your own colony somewhere where hippies can take drugs, drink and pee on the sidewalk without any sort of law and order causing problems. Why have police anyways? They're cramping your hippie style...

  13. Posted by: Hippie food on Jan 31, 2006 @ 9:30pm


    Have you considered not buying it?

  14. Posted by: jay on Feb 11, 2006 @ 6:15pm

    so typical of you peak hippies to get all riled up about this kind of thing. Of course the fact that the government has parameters to uphold is of no concern of yours. If you are demanding some sort of exception from the rules, i say to you "this is a democracy with enforced regulations, got a problem? then take it up with parliament, take it underground, but for gods sake dont showcase it in the center of this beautiful town. Whats more, why is everything made out to be a David vesus Goliath kind of campaign? Its just rediculous. Rethink your tactics cause thats where the flaw lies.

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