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."
"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.