KC Health Department director says he’s not the bad guy

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas City police and the city's health department were criticized after shutting down a group feeding the homeless over the weekend.

But KC Health Department Director Rex Archer told FOX4 Monday that he's not the bad guy.

"So E.coli or salmonella or shillelagh or listeria, etc., etc., can grow in the food. Then if you give that to homeless people who in particular that can be more vulnerable, they'll end up in the emergency room or can even die from that exposure," Archer said.

Free Hot Soup is a group of neighbors who make the food in their own kitchens to feed the homeless. Archer said they can't legally hand out the food because they don't have a permit.

The group spent their Sunday feeding people who are homeless at Davis Park when a health inspector and Kansas City police showed up, forced them to throw the food away and then poured bleach on it to make sure no one ate it.

Archer told FOX4 the volunteers at Free Hot Soup were told during a public meeting in September to stop operations without a permit. He said they refused to go through the permitting process and kept serving the homeless, prompting Sunday's shutdown.

According to Archer, the permitting process is actually pretty easy, and it's free for organizations that feed the homeless.

If you're looking to provide meals to the homeless this winter, the city's website provides more details on how to obtain a food permit.

Below is the statement the health department issued Monday:

KCMO Health Department statement.

KCMO Health Department statement.