Howl! A Failure to Dig Deeper.

In his City Paper article “Food Fight,” Isaiah Thompson reports that the city’s health department recently distributed flyers to Benjamin Franklin Parkway soup kitchen workers, inviting them to attend a meeting of the Board of Health. That board is responsible for putting city food safety rules in effect.

Thompson reports that Parkway soup kitchen organizations are leery of this recent invitation. They see it as just another attempt on the city’s part to remove the homeless from the Parkway to make the city’s Museum Row more appealing to tourism. After all, as Thompson notes, the new Barnes is opening soon.

The piece basically agrees with the soup kitchens. It even goes so far as to identify past city officials who have tried to clamp down on soup kitchens as a way of discouraging the homeless from congregating on the Parkway: former councilman Frank DiCicco and former mayors Ed Rendell and John Street.

That there may be a sinister motivation behind what the city’s health department recently did is surely tantalizing and worthy of investigation. Unfortunately, in the end, the article comes up short in its investigation. While the city insists that the board of health meeting is unrelated to cleaning up the Parkway of the homeless in time for the new Barnes, the article fails to press the question of why the meeting has to happen now. It never asks the city the question: “the board of health meeting invitation is well and good, but why now? Why issue that invitation now?”

Instead, the article merely reports that the health department’s move is to ensure the safety of the food served by soup kitchens, thereby failing to dig deeper into the story, failing to ask the city the tough questions.

Text by Charlie Chan. Image via City Paper.

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