The Corner

Soup-Kitchen Nazis

My pal Bill McGurn has a maddening column in today’s WSJ. Here’s the link (but to read the entire piece, you’ve got to subscribe). The gist: a long-standing soup-kitchen program run by a consortium of churches in New Jersey is being undercut by food-safety bureaucrats who have recast the charity as a retail business, thereby wildly raising costs and precluding volunteers from bringing home-prepared foods for the poor. He’s a smidgen of Bill’s column: 

This the men and women of the Community Soup Kitchen have provided for 26 years, not once missing a day. Now comes a challenge greater than any snowstorm or power outage. Earlier this year, the Morristown Division of Health ruled that henceforth the soup kitchen would be considered a “retail” food establishment under New Jersey law.

From that single word far-reaching consequences have flowed. In a column for a local blog, Ray Friant, a volunteer from the Morristown United Methodist Church, called the rule “crazy.” Over Sunday breakfast at a local diner, Mr. Friant, his wife, Emmy Lu, and another church couple who also volunteer at the kitchen, Barbara and Jim Morris, spell out what they mean by crazy.

Most obvious is the higher cost: at least $150,000 more a year. To meet this increase, the kitchen is asking each participating church to up its own contribution. Some congregations don’t have the money. For those that do, it will mean less for some other need.

Much of this cost results from a new prohibition on people donating food they’ve prepared at home. For those on the giving end, often this was the only way they could participate, so eliminating their contributions means eliminating volunteers. For those on the receiving end, it means no more homemade meat loaf, lasagna, cakes and so forth.

Let them eat store-bought cake! Rage, rage against the regulators: Last one to call Governor Christie’s office to demand an intervention is a rotten egg.

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