03/04/2013 11:51 am ET Updated Mar 04, 2013

James Cappleman Salvation Army Food Truck Flap: Uptown Ald. Under Fire After Clashing With Charity

A Chicago alderman is facing backlash just days after he allegedly tried to boot a charity food truck that feeds the homeless from his North Side ward.

The Sun-Times first reported 46th Ward Ald. James Cappleman told the Salvation Army Friday it was to pack up its five-day-a-week food truck for the needy at Wilson and Marine Drive.

Capt. Nancy Powers, who oversees the Salvation Army’s homeless program in the city, told the paper the charity was given a month to find a new haunt — outside Cappleman's ward.

“He decided he felt the unit was pulling homeless into the area, and he does not want us to feed them,” Powers told the paper.

According to WGN, the Greater Chicago Food Depository indicates 16 percent of Uptown residents are "food insecure." The Salvation Army's food truck unit feeds an average of 100 people at midday, Monday through Friday.

Tensions heightened shortly after, as Cappleman disputed the Sun-Times' version of the meeting and Powers pulled an about-face on the decision to leave Uptown willingly.

In a statement posted to his site Sunday, Cappleman wrote he was unable to work with the charity because "they decided to storm out of a meeting instead of working with me and my office."

Cappleman maintains the Salvation Army reps abruptly left the meeting when he pressed them for information on the actual impact of their services while also citing other charities in the ward that had reportedly ponied up evidence of their efficacy.

According to DNAinfo, reps from the charity chafed at the suggestion it keep its substance abuse and social workers at its Lakeshore site but not distribute food to the hungry. The group plans to continue providing their services to the homeless.

"We aren't going to compromise our mission. And we are never going to stop taking care of the folks who need us," Powers told DNAinfo on Saturday.

As news spread over the weekend, a Facebook group organizing a Wednesday protest outside the alderman's office had drawn more than 200 supporters (at the time of this report).

In an unexpected alliance, the Windy City Times reports the controversy has drawn LGBT support for Salvation Army services in its clash with the openly-gay alderman despite the charity's history of anti-gay stances.

Cappleman, meanwhile, has faced criticism over his handling of a pigeon control in the ward as well as his involvement in the recent shutdown of one of the city's last men's-only single-room occupancy hotels.



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