The police have gotten a bad rap lately after several violent confrontations between officers and citizens this year, including, most recently, the murder of Walter Scott by South Carolina police officer Michael Slager. But the Hennepin County sheriff’s department in downtown Minneapolis is certainly helping the reputation of the men and women in blue by handing out food to the homeless. As part of a new program with the nonprofit group Matter, each sheriff deputy’s patrol car will be stocked with healthy foods like granola bars, oatmeal, and canned vegetables. It’s a way for officers to immediately help any homeless or needy person they come in contact with, according to Minnesota Public Radio News.
"There's no doubt in my mind that we will come across a number of those who are less fortunate, maybe even homeless," Stanek told MPR. "This will allow the deputies to build a little rapport, reach out to them, [offer] a healthy alternative to what they might be doing."
The total homeless population has increased steadily in Minneapolis over the past decade, and at last count in 2012, more than 4,300 people in the area were homeless, or approximately 1 percent of the city’s population. In addition, 8.9 percent of Minneapolis residents receive SNAP federal assistance.
Through this current program, Matter hopes to distribute as many as 15,000 boxes of food through the sheriff’s office.