La Jolla church ends meal program amid hepatitis A concerns

LA JOLLA, Calif. – A La Jolla church has closed its doors to a homeless food pantry as fears of hepatitis A spread through the beach community.

For nine years, the charity So Others May Eat has been feeding homeless and low-income people twice a month at Mary, Star of the Sea.

But the Catholic church recently received a letter from the La Jolla Town Council asking them to stop serving because of the homeless people being attracted to the area.

Former parishioner and major financial donor Teresa Sousa said the church is using the hepatitis A outbreak as a fear tactic to turn away those in need.

“How dare somebody sit back and say, because you are homeless and because you might have hepatitis A, you cannot come where I live,” Sousa said.

Catharine Douglass from the La Jolla Town Council said the church is making the right decision.

“Handing somebody a free sandwich, that doesn’t cure them. If you have people coming in with hepatitis A and they’re sitting down, they’re touching the chairs, they’re touching the tables, they’re using the restrooms, how do you disinfect that?” Douglas said.

“We want to make sure that we don’t enable our homeless to stay on the streets. We want to make sure that we do everything that we possibly working together to get them off the streets and into wraparound services,” Zimmerman said.

Sousa said the people she feeds will simply go hungry.

“The people we serve will not go, I know they will not go down there,” she said.