Wednesday, November 29, 2006

New Definition of Eating Out -- UPDATE !!

"The chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors (Nov. 30) nixed plans to bar residents from cooking food in home and church kitchens and donating it to homeless shelters. He blamed overzealous county employees for a policy that made Fairfax the subject of nationwide ridicule." -- Washington Post


Public health demands a high standard of cleanliness, if not nutrition, in dining establishments. Clean food is a regulatory matter of concern not only to "good government" types but to laissez-faire conservatives, who have a higher stake in the steak.

So, when you go to a restaurant -- whether it's Morton's or McDonald's -- you expect the food won't kill you tomorrow and that the kitchen operates under strict health department regulations.

But the Washington Post reports that things are not so simple, at least not in Fairfax County, VA, one of the richest counties in America and a bastion of compassion.

The problem is that homeless people often eat unapproved hot food. They don't have home-cooked meals because they don't have homes, and they don't usually eat in restaurants; they eat what volunteers in the community cook and bring to shelters.

But it is against the law in Fairfax County to feed them hot meals lest they get food poisoning and die. Thus, the law would rather have people go hungry (sorry, experience low food security) than to eat a casserole Aunt Nelly made and brought to a church-run shelter.

This is an example of many things - the law being an ass, for instance - but the starkest disconnect here is that the people who should know most about risk, public health officials, are requiring the poor to skip the shelters and eat out.

Eat out of dumpsters.

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