Monday, May 04, 2009

"They took the food right out of my hands
before I could get it into my mouth"

"They took the food right out of my hands before I could get it into my mouth," Reverend Cocomo Rock of the 191914 Ministries said on Sunday at an aborted Food Not Bombs shared meal. "And then he told me he was going to throw all of it in the garbage."

Rock, who is unemployed, and who has not been able to get food stamps after applying seven weeks ago, claims the Sunday meal fills an important gap for him, and for other hungry residents of Middletown, Connecticut.

Sunday, soon after members of the local Food Not Bombs chapter set up tables and placed pots of jambalaya, mango chutney, collard greens, stuffed peppers and more on the table as part of a meal they share with the community, all the food was confiscated. One Food Not Bombs member was issued a summons to appear in court for the commission of a misdemeanor, distributing food without a license.

Food Not Bomb members vowed to continue sharing meals.

"If the health department can't prevent me from buying and smoking cigarettes," said Fred Carroll, who was cited last week. "Don't worry about them protecting me from vegetables."

Food Not Bomb members vowed to continue sharing meals.

The group chooses to share the food publicly -- rather than at someone’s house, for example -- as a means of drawing attention to issues of hunger, said Dan Schniedewind. “We do it in as public a place as we can because we feel these issues are very important,” he said. “It’s a demonstration against a society with misplaced priorities.” And that's why a federal judge in Orlando ruled that sharing food with hungry and homeless people in public spaces is protected by the First Amendment.

Read The Middletown Eye report here and the Middletown Press report here. And see previous post here.


At 4:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why can't we stop the bifurcation and hate? Taking food away from hungry people is wrong.
This is America, not Nazi Germany in the 30's and 40's.

At 4:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

An absolutely outrageous and unjust situation! Completely, totally unacceptable.

At 7:48 AM, Anonymous HartfordIMC said...

There's a video of this Sunday's events at Food Not Bombs up at now.

At 8:33 AM, Anonymous Michele said...

This is both sad and absurd. I read another post from the Middleton Eye blog you linked to, with the text of a minister's sermon, "A Table in the Presence of My Enemies," which ends like this, "Is a meal like the one being served at Main and Liberty today a kind of Eucharist meal, a transformative meal, where Jesus is covertly present?" That is a good and powerful question.

From the Middletown Press: "Connecticut public health code... requires publicly-served food to be prepared in a licensed and inspected facility." In our town (Greensboro, NC), FNB prepares and serves food to the homeless without a license. So do several churches. And the Salvation Army-sponsored street outreach team. (We don't cook at the Salvation Army, we cook at the same community center as FNB, or at our homes.) Such restrictive food laws may be designed to protect public health, but the unintended consequence is that it keeps people hungry.

I'm thankful that we haven't run into this issue in our community. And I pray that someone will find a common sense resolution to the problem (quickly) in Connecticut. Hungry people should be fed. And laws should serve the public, not hurt the public.


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