For what reason would he restrict free and charitable donations?
Well, you’re probably familiar with the mayor’s crusade against salt — apparently, it’s bad for you and the government should regulate how much is in your food.
Therefore, in an effort to curb the citizenry’s dirty salt habits, the Bloomberg administration has instructed all government-run shelters to turn away any donated food items that lack specific nutritional information.
Basically, the city is dissuading private citizens from being charitable.
“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,” writes Jeff Stier in the New York Post.
“They’ve brought freshly cooked, nutrient-rich surplus foods from synagogue events to homeless facilities in the neighborhood…The practice of donating such surplus food to homeless shelters is common among houses of worship in the city,” he adds.
But according to DHS Commissioner Seth Diamond, the food donations ban is “consistent” with Mayor Bloomberg’s desire to “improve[e] nutrition for all New Yorkers.” In fact, the mayor is so dedicated to the cause, that his administration has produced an interagency document that specifically outlines what can and can’t be served, appropriate serving sizes, what content is permissible, fiber minimums, and condiment recommendations.
What “can” and “can’t” be served?
“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,” Stier writes.
But not to worry! According to Diamond, the government-approved food tastes just fine and there’s plenty of it – so they don’t need any of that donated synagogue food.
“Glenn Richter’s experience suggests otherwise,” Stier writes. “He says the beneficiaries — many of them senior citizens recovering from drug and alcohol abuse — have always been appreciative of the treats he and other OZ members bring.”
It’s not just that the donations offer an enjoyable addition to the “official” low-salt fare; knowing that the food comes from volunteers and community members warms their hearts, not just their stomachs.
So you can imagine Richter’s consternation last month when employees at a local shelter turned away food he brought from a bar mitzvah.
“This level of micromanagement is stunning,” Richter, himself a former city employee, said.
Many critics of the mayor’s salt crusade have noted that people have been eating salt for, well, a really, really long time and, apparently against all odds, they’ve managed to make it this far.
“Jews have been eating chulent and kugel for a long time, and somehow we’ve managed to live long and healthy lives. All we want to do is to continue sharing these bounties with our neighbors,” Rabbi Allen Schwartz of Ohav Zedek said.
So which is more impressive: the fact that the mayor apparently has the authority to regulate the city’s salt intake, or the fact that he was able to get dozens of city employees and agencies to go along with the idea?
“The Bloomberg administration is so obsessed with meddling in how we all live that it’s now eating away at the very best that New York citizens have to deliver,” Stier writes.