(KMOV) -- After a year of feeding the homeless hot meals on Monday nights, St. Louis Health officials shut down a volunteer effort.
Surprisingly, the volunteers are not upset and have plans to work through the problem and expecting the program to grow.
"we didn't tell them they couldn't serve food, we told them they couldn't serve hot foot,” said Pam Walker, director of the St. Louis Health Department.
When the health department found out about the free hot meals, officials had to shut down the volunteers because they did not have a permit or the equipment to serve “safe” hot meals.
Walker said she had no choice to shut this down, despite the grave need during the cold months.
Food was served in the shadow of the new bridge across the Mississippi River in the old vacant lot of the Cotton Bin Building.
Angela Valdes and the other volunteers with “Churches on the Streets” usually serve 50 to 80 meals on Monday nights; with some weeks serving more than 100.
Valdes said since the story hit the internet, she has heard from people all over the world including plenty from the St. Louis area.
"In all actuality it's increased awareness in a whole new way so there’s a lot more people coming on board and we are working out the kinks,” Valdes said.
Those kinks involved working with the health department to get the necessary permits, trained workers, equipment and a food truck in the future.
“I have absolutely not no doubt we can work with this group or any other group that wants to help the homeless with a hot meal... we just want to do it in a safe way ,” said Walker.
The group fed people after the shut down by having hot pizzas delivered to the area.
I contacted Miss Mahoney at the health department and asked if we had fresh hot pizzas from a pizza restaurant delivered if that was ok and she said yes. Fortell’s Pizza Den of Creve Coeur and Ballwin, the owners actually delivered it and it was fantastic. It made a lot of people happy,” said Valdes.
Fortell’s actually heard about the problem and contacted “Churches on the Streets” via their Facebook page to offer help in the form of pizza.
The organization has also received offers from others who want to pay for the permits.
Click here if you would like more information about “Churches on the Streets.”