In a perverse variation of Marie Antoinette's, "Let them eat cake!," Jeff Stier, writing in the New York Post, relates that New York's fussy Big Brother Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has now decreed "Let them starve!" to the city's homeless.
Excess, left over food from lavish Jewish weddings, Bar Mitzvahs (coming of age ceremonies for Jewish boys when they reach 13) or even kiddushes (food served at the post service social hour) has been donated to city shelters for over a decade, similar to programs offered by churches and other institutions. But freshly cooked, nutritous and delicious food good enough for celebrants and their friends and family is not good enough for the 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.
Diamond insists that the institutional vendors hired by the shelters serve food that meets the rules but also tastes good; it just isn't too salty. So, says the commissioner, the homeless really don't need any of the synagogue's food.
Commissioner Diamond is so-o-o correct--the homeless don't need hearty food--they need to starve instead or become reliant on the goodness of government.
And to those generous donors--eat all that food that is put before you, become obese and then the government will tell you you're too fat and must lose weight...or else!
hat tip: Debby Rothstein Lurie, Jewish Humor Central