Kate Hicks
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Hey homeless people, no soup for you.

So says New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has banned private food contributions to homeless shelters because he's afraid they won't meet his exacting nutritional standards:

In conjunction with a mayoral task force and the Health Department, the Department of Homeless Services recently started enforcing new nutritional rules for food served at city shelters. Since DHS can’t assess the nutritional content of donated food, shelters have to turn away good Samaritans.

DHS Commissioner Seth Diamond says the ban on food donations is consistent with Mayor Bloomberg’s emphasis on improving nutrition for all New Yorkers. A new interagency document controls what can be served at facilities — dictating serving sizes as well as salt, fat and calorie contents, plus fiber minimums and condiment recommendations.

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.

Diamond insists that the institutional vendors hired by the shelters serve food that meets the rules but also tastes good; it just isn’t too salty. So, says the commissioner, the homeless really don’t need any of the [homecooked] food.

Big government has ripped away something that good citizens have long considered a duty and a privilege: volunteering time, resources, and most importantly, compassion for the hungry. Regardless of whether the private contributions are explicitly necessary, forbidding a long-held, common work of charity is a striking overreach of state power. People have provided private food contributions to the homeless for centuries, and such considerate efforts have only improved the lives of the less fortunate.

Besides, whoever said it was Mayor Bloomberg's job to "improve the health of New Yorkers?" He governs what is arguably the most important city in the world; the idea that he ought to concern himself with New Yorkers' salt intake is laughable.

Nanny state, indeed. Open wide, New York: the low-sodium, government-approved spoonful is coming down the hatch!

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Kate Hicks

Kate Hicks is one of Townhall.com's web editors. You can follow her on Twitter @KateBHicks.