Ocean Beach Food Giveaway Causes Controversy

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Each Friday, dozens of homeless people line up for free food at Ocean Beach.

    Two local college students started the weekly giveaway. They say they were inspired by Bible stories to give away food and create a place where everyone is welcome.

    “I think there’s a lot of hurt, you know, in the world,” student David Liestman said. 

    Liestman hopes to heal that hurt not only with sandwiches and yogurt, but by offering friendship to passersby.

    “Them sharing their life with me, and I learn and I grow, and we learn and we grow,” he said.

    “They just come to us, and it’s super cool,” student Molly Murphy said.

    However, not everyone in the area agrees.

    “It seems odd to have a food line at the beach,” said Denny Knox, Director of the OB Main Street Association.

    Knox says she isn’t against students helping the homeless, but thinks there’s a better way to do it.

    “There's no one to police it or to pick up the trash afterwards, so we're left to deal with it,” she said.

    Shades Bistro owner Dave Martin said the food giveaway is impacting business.

    “A lot of families don't want to (come here) because they're concerned about what, they think, could be a dangerous situation,” Martin said.

    He says there are churches, facilities and other organizations that Liestman and his friends can work with to do even more good.

    “Give them a path to follow and not just a bag of chips and a sandwich,” Martin said.

    “We're concerned that they're keeping some of these folks from seeking help from organizations that can really help them,” Martin said.

    Despite these concerns, the students feel they are making a difference. They say the last thing they want is conflict. Liestman and his friends hope to continue giving away food each week, but plan to talk to opponents to figure out a solution.

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