A weekly soup kitchen, with on-site harm reduction services, is being proposed for people in Houston. Like other exisiting soup kitchens in Houston, it is open to all community members.
Harm reduction services involves taking action through policy and programming to reduce the risk of harmful behavior. It consists of a range of non-judgmental, evidence-informed approaches and strategies aimed at providing and enhancing the knowledge, skills, resources, and supports for individuals, their families, and communities to be safer and healthier.
The Houston Harm Reduction Committee, made up of multiple service providers, is proposing a 12-week pilot program to provide food and hard reduction services in Houston.
The pilot program would be held between January and March, which can be “tough months” for people due to the gloomy weather, states the report.
“This project would support our vulnerable community members with food and services through a traditionally difficult time of year, and provide us with some solid data on this kind of service delivery for future, long-term proposals,” the report adds.
The District of Houston is now partnering with the committee, confirmed Gerald Pinchbeck, the district’s chief administrative officer.
The municipality has applied for grant funding for the pilot project and, if successful, will then enter into a contract with the committee through its partner, Houston Link to Learning, for the operation and administration of the program.
The district would not be responsible for hiring staff, organizing or operating the pilot project, which is estimated to cost $17,200 and would be fully funded by the grant.
The pilot program would be a stepping stone toward a three-year project based on the same concept of providing food to drug users in a safe environment.
According to district staff, the project could improve mental health and addictions service delivery in Houston while providing medical care and support to vulnerable members of the population.
The Houston Harm Reduction Committee has been operating for about two years. It initially came together around a noticeable increase in drug use in the community and the issue of needles left in public places. A council representative is part of the committee and they meet every other month.
Editor’s note: This story has been re-written and Houston Today apologizes for wording used in the earlier version that was placed on the website on Dec. 2.