Tuesday, March 20, 2012

food police

Via Facebook (thank you JAC!), an article in the category of "You have got to be kidding me!"

No kugel for you! - NY Post

Food Police? Mayor Bloomberg Bans Food Donations to Homeless Shelters | AlterNet

which led me to a fuller article entitled "No Kugel for you!":


From the second article:

So much for serving the homeless.

The Bloomberg administration is now taking the term “food police” to new depths, blocking food donations to all government-run facilities that serve the city’s homeless.

In conjunction with a mayoral task force and the Health Department, the Department of Homeless Services recently started enforcing new nutritional rules for food served at city shelters. Since DHS can’t assess the nutritional content of donated food, shelters have to turn away good Samaritans.

For over a decade, Glenn Richter and his wife, Lenore, have led a team of food-delivery volunteers from Ohab Zedek, the Upper West Side Orthodox congregation.

They’ve brought freshly cooked, nutrient-rich surplus foods from synagogue events to homeless facilities in the neighborhood. (Disclosure: I know the food is so tasty because I’ve eaten it — I’m an OZ member.) The practice of donating such surplus food to homeless shelters is common among houses of worship in the city.

DHS Commissioner Seth Diamond says the ban on food donations is consistent with Mayor Bloomberg’s emphasis on improving nutrition for all New Yorkers. A new interagency document controls what can be served at facilities — dictating serving sizes as well as salt, fat and calorie contents, plus fiber minimums and condiment recommendations.

The city also cites food-safety issues with donations, but it’s clear that the real driver behind the ban is the Bloomberg dietary diktats.

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/no_kugel_for_you_N4VuTrqavfOiApSHngxuMJ#ixzz1piB7za83

OK, I understand the desire for healthy food - if I were homeless, I'd certainly prefer something nutritious - but when no food is the other choice... Is being hungry or dumpster-diving or eating vending machine junk because you have nowhere to cook better?  And I understand wanting to make sure that people aren't getting food poisoning (not that they mentioned this, but it probably plays into it) - but the alternative dumpster-diving option is a sure way to get sick at some point. 

When I think of the people I've seen lined up for soup kitchens and food pantries - and I mean in Massachusetts, not in Haiti - I wonder just how far the food insecurity has to go before someone realizes that throwing out perfectly good food is a bad idea and that sharing is a good one.  Yes, that's simplistic - but really, when people are hungry and there isn't enough to go around - and I doubt the administration has enough money to feed all those people the decent food they envision instead - making decisions like this is a bad idea.

And if they do have the money, just think of all the other things they could add to the programs.


Pass the kugel, please.  (Just don't tell if I share.)

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