Food police vs. the homeless

Food police vs. the homeless

April 2nd, 2012 in Opinion Free Press

We doubt that most people who are homeless and hungry would be very concerned about the salt, fiber and fat content of food generously provided to them at homeless shelters.

But out of a skewed sense of nutritional appropriateness, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration has ruled that homeless shelters in the city no longer can accept donations of food. They must rely instead on foods provided by vendors they hire.

A CBS affiliate in New York found that the reason for rejecting the donations -- which often come from religious groups -- is that the city cannot evaluate whether the foods have proper levels of fat, salt and fiber.

One man who, with a team of volunteers, has been collecting tons of freshly cooked food from a New York synagogue for decades to deliver to homeless shelters was disgusted to discover that he may no longer do so.

"I think there is a degree of management that becomes micromanagement, and when you cross that line simply what you're doing is wrong," Glenn Richter told the New York television station.

Coming from New York, though, these new rules are not a big surprise. That's the same city that back in 2006 banned trans fats in restaurants. Trans fats are unhealthy, and we cannot recommend a steady diet of foods containing them.

But as with food donations to homeless shelters, trans fats served by restaurants shouldn't be an occasion for more Big Brother intervention.