Cal  Thomas

Are there no limits on government's power, no place where it cannot go?

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a former (thankfully) Republican, but in name only, has decided to limit food donations to city charities, including homeless shelters, because the government is unable to measure the nutritional value of the food.

Who in city government believes that a homeless person with no access to money other than what he or she might panhandle cares about the nutritional content of food? If they are able to scrounge up a few bucks on the streets, does anyone seriously think they're headed to a grocery store to buy carrots and arugula? Any food, including "unhealthy" fast food would be their preferred choice.

As reported in the New York Post by Jeff Stier, a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research, Seth Diamond, the commissioner of the Department of Homeless Services, claims Mayor Bloomberg is simply being "consistent" with his goal of improving nutrition for all New Yorkers. "A new interagency document," writes Stier, "controls what can be served at facilities -- dictating serving sizes as well as salt, fat and calorie contents, plus fiber minimums and condiment recommendations."

Will the government permit ketchup on fries? Maybe it will allow ketchup, which liberals mocked Ronald Reagan for correctly calling a vegetable, but not fries, unless they are unsalted, and then just a few. No super sizing it.

Who will police this? If a homeless man wants salt on his food, will a city official wrestle the shaker from his hands? Will he be arrested by the salt police if he rebels? Will a woman who has not eaten in days be told she can't have a second helping because the government won't allow it under its new portion-control regulation? Will she be fined if she eats more? How will the government collect the fine if she has no money?

What effect will this new requirement have on restaurants, some of which have donated surplus food to local food banks and charities for years? Will they have to first comply with government dietary regulations before they donate anything? Mire the process in red tape and bureaucracy and the restaurants won't think it's worth the trouble to donate at all.

It takes the notion of "food police" to a new level.

Stier tells the story of Glenn Richter and his wife, Lenore, who for 10 years have led a team of volunteers from their Upper West Side Orthodox synagogue. "They brought freshly cooked, nutrient-rich surplus foods from synagogue events to homeless facilities in the neighborhood." Many recipients, Richter says, are seniors recovering from alcohol and drug abuse.

Cal Thomas

Get Cal Thomas' new book, What Works, at Amazon.

Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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