The Road to Hell...

Fairfax County, Virginia wants to protect its homeless people from food poisoning.  Apparently by letting them go hungry:

Under a tough new Fairfax County policy, residents can no longer donate food prepared in their homes or a church kitchen -- be it a tuna casserole, sandwiches or even a batch of cookies -- unless the kitchen is approved by the county, health officials said yesterday.

They said the crackdown on home-cooked meals is aimed at preventing food poisoning among homeless people.

The crackdown came after someone apparently complained that some churches in Fairfax were serving food to homeless people that was prepared in uninspected kitchens.  Never mind that there hasn't been a single reported case of homeless shelter food poisoning.  About half the churches and shelters now operating will have to close, because they don't meet the restaurant-grade requirements -- donated casseroles, cakes, cookies, and the like are also now forbidden.

Says one county Health Department rep:

"We're trying to protect those people."

And...

"We're not trying to come across as being a heavy-handed government."

Uh...too late.  The director of one area shelter responds:

"We're very aware that a number of homeless people eat out of dumpsters, and mom's pot roast has got to be healthier than that."

The county has generously agreed to waive the $60 registration fee.  But given that most unregistered shelters and churches don't have things like commercial-grade refrigerators, three-compartment sinks, and licensed food inspectors on staff, fat lot of good that'll do them.  The new rule also takes effect just as winter weather is settling in. 


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  • ||

    I think this is just Fairfax's subtle way of cleaning up the streets.

  • ||

    I don't know if this is just a maneuvre to make things more difficult for the homeless, but it wouldn't surprise me. Or else it could be mere bureaucratic literalism, because there doesn't seem to be a new ordinance involved, just a new enforcement policy.

  • ||

    Un-fucking-believable

    Actually, it isn't, and that's the sad part.

  • ||

    To the homeless in Fairfax County, Virginia:

    Merry Fucking Christmas!

    It sounds like the Health Department decided to take some cues from the Las Vegas City Council and Hizzonner Oscar Goodman which made serving food to homeless people in a park a misdemeanor.

  • ||

    This was enacted in Charles County, Maryland in the 90s.

  • ||

    If they have no county inspected bread, then let them eat nothing.

  • ||

    Mad MAx hits it one the head...I have a lot of mixed feelings on the issue but in my town they've passed ordinances making it illegal to feed the homeless outside of a shelter, which I find somewhat moronic.

    Then again, a local restauranteur a few weeks ago posted a video he made of a vagrant taking a dump in the city flower box outside his restaurant in broad daylight. His point was that the city isn't doing enough to police the areas they're trying to get new businesses into.

    Then the clueless dink with the Downtown Development Authority complained that he was giving downtown a bad image.

  • ||

    Back in the mid-late 90s, Memphis booted a travelling free food kitchen that went from city to city, stopping for a few months or a year. They were shut down for not having the proper inspections or whatnot; word was that it was prompted by existing religious organizations that served the homeless that didn't want the competition. One of the things that had set the travelling kitchen apart was that it was food with no strings attached; you didn't have to listen to any preaching or be in a program or anything.

  • ||

    Something like this happened in Wisconsin not long ago. Some bureaucratic dink decided that people preparing food at home and bringing it to a church hall or the VFW for a potluck supper violated regulations. The agency banned all such dinners where the food wasn't professionally catered, or cooked onsite in approved facilities. Faster than you could say "Powdermilk Biscuits" the citizenry gave their State Assembly Reps. and State Senators hell, and an exemption was written into the law for these feasts.

    I doubt that that a regulation preventing someone from exercising one of the Corporal Works of Mercy would survive a First Amendment free exercise challenge.

    Kevin

  • thoreau||

    OK, this is just ridiculous. How is a shelter that relies in part on donated food supposed to operate in...oh, I get it.

  • ||

    sorry to be pedantic, but, in this context, the correct spelling is "waive." "wave" is something you surf on.

  • ||

    It's quite possible he did indeed mean "wave." As in, they waved the fee in front of those that paid it, in order to properly taunt them.

  • PIN 556616||

    Don't you just love bureaucrats? Literal thinking with no ability to see the big picture.

  • Robert Goodman||

    ~20 years ago in Miami B. or Surfside or one of those places, they avoided all the subtlety and simply arsoned the Universal Life Church, which had been feeding the homeless, out of there.

    Then again, here in NYC the great majority of barbecuing is illegal. Insufficient distance between the barbecue and bldgs.

  • Steve in Clearwater||

    Short term solution.....Obtain at least three or four good videocameras and people who can operate them correctly. Then operate business as usual and force the local officials to shut you down.

    Medium range solution...Work to change the offending statutes.

    Longer range solution ....Work together to accept and realize that feeding people does not somehow inspire more folks to want to live on the street.

    More often it inspires and empowers many of the receipients and (YEP) the givers to do more to Love and Serve Thy Neighbor.

    Shocking Philosophical Concept thus injected all for the price of some casseroles, some baked bread and some fruit and vegetables.



    Oh and don't forget the lemonade.

  • ||

    I suspect that Fairfax County wants to discourage homeless people from coming into the county. Let's watch to see what happens but the video camera idea sounds good.

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    This is clearly invidious religious discrimination! What about all those church members who will still be exposed to potentially life threatening potluck and pancake dinners served from those kitchens?

  • ||

    Under the Fairfax policy, if I look outside on a cold night to see some homeless dude shuffling down the street, am I allowed to give him something warm to eat or drink? If so, hasn't Fairfax banned altruism?

  • ||

    How many years until we're reading this?

    "Under a tough new Fairfax County policy, residents can no longer *eat* food prepared in their homes -- be it a tuna casserole, sandwiches or even a batch of cookies -- unless the kitchen is approved by the county, health officials said yesterday."

  • ||

    Is Fairfax county attempting to replace the United Kingdom for idiocy? It appears so.

  • ||

    come on now...if you let the homeless eat any old food, how will the county ensure the consistency and the quality of the soylent green they are making?

  • ||

    Obviously, the real purpose is to drive the people they don't want out of Fairfax county. If they can't get food in Fairfax, then they'll got to Alexandria, Arlington, DC...

    There is a secondary purpose as well, which is to stifle any possible individual initiative in addressing a social problem. Can't have citizens helping people without the mommy state, they might get it into their heads that they can do other things, too.
    -jcr

  • ||

    Good Samaritans Go Home! If there was ever a case for civil disobedience, this it it.

  • ||

    I know what you thought. They don't have homes, they don't have jobs, what do they need the top of a muffin for? They're lucky to get the stumps. We've never gotten so many complaints. Every two minutes, "Where is the top of this muffin? Who ate the rest of this?"

  • ||

    Good Samaritans Go Home! If there was ever a case for civil disobedience, this it it.

    I'm a godless athiest, AMEN, BROTHER!

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Just inform the Fairfax police that homeless people are betting on football games. Officer Deval Bullock will get rid of them in no time.

  • ||

    Last night I was at my work holiday party, where there was way too much food. We asked the restaurant what they did with the leftover food, did they donate it or just throw it away. They said they used to donate the food, but now the insurance they have to pay if they want to donate is too expensive so they just throw it away. Unreal.

  • ||

    I can't freaking believe this story.

    No wait, I can. And it makes me angry.

  • ||

    This is clearly invidious religious discrimination! What about all those church members who will still be exposed to potentially life threatening potluck and pancake dinners served from those kitchens?

    Within the last couple of years, I read that some Virginia locality (for all I know, it was Fairfax County) ruling that those health rules *did* apply to church kitchens, and would indeed be enforced in the case of those potluck and pancake suppers.

  • ||

    Living in Northern Virginia, I can totally understand this. Fairfax County (and every other jurisdiction here) has an immense government and well, they've all got to have some excuse to surf porn all day on the public's dime, right?

  • ||

    They said the crackdown on home-cooked meals is aimed at preventing food poisoning among homeless people.

    Yeah, those home-cooked meals can't be near as safe as the scraps out of the dumpsters.

  • ||

    "Yeah, those home-cooked meals can't be near as safe as the scraps out of the dumpsters."

    Given a choice between my cooking and the dumpster, you'd be safer with the latter. ;)

  • ||

    Does anyone remember when Tempe AZ hosted the Fiesta Bowl & moved all the homeless people into
    Phoenix for the weekend so visitors to the city wouldn't be offended by all the human beings who couldn't afford football tickets?
    Perhaps we should create a special annual award for governments on all levels that really don't care what happens to you unless you're a working/buying member of society.

  • ||

    Having worked in the restaurant industry in Fairfax County for many years, I can remember talking to chefs who wanted to give away food they had made for large events, but not being able to because a portion of the food had been used. For instance, an enormous tub of lasagna cannot be donated if even one piece of the lasagna was out of the pan. Often, the chef simply wouldn't bother because the rules were so restrictive.

  • Sean from fairfax||

    I live in fairfax and this flat out pisses me off. Homelessness really isnt a problem in the county. The next time I see a homeless person Im going to make them dinner. Come and arrest me!

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