Thanksgiving Food Drives: Feed the Multitudes (Unless It's Illegal)
#21
It could very well be that they want the money to buy a pack of cigarettes instead of a sandwich. If they told the truth they might not get the money. Mother Teresa of Calcutta noted that often the sick refused food and asked for a cigarette because most would rather smoke than eat  – so she told her sisters to sit them up and help them smoke. What difference does it make? You're giving the poor beggar what he wants - a moment of contentment and it's not going to break us.

- Lisa     
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#22
(11-03-2009, 10:03 PM)StrictCatholicGirl Wrote: It could very well be that they want the money to buy a pack of cigarettes instead of a sandwich. If they told the truth they might not get the money. Mother Teresa of Calcutta noted that often the sick refused food and asked for a cigarette because most would rather smoke than eat  – so she told her sisters to sit them up and help them smoke. What difference does it make? You're giving the poor beggar what he wants - a moment of contentment and it's not going to break us.

- Lisa     

I know what you mean. In fact, if I see a beggar (by which I mean someone who is not activly asking for money, but just sitting on the sidewalk with his cap out for change) and I don't have any change, I'll often stop and ask if they smoke. They all seem to, so I'll give them a smoke or two.
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#23
I disagree with the article, a lot of those rules are put in place as good precautions to protect the homeless. I can see where everyone in this thread is coming from but at the same time we can't excuse these requirements as being purely bureaucratic. We have to keep in mind practicality.

First of all, it has to be said that a lot of these requirements are enforced by charities because of our law suit culture, especially in the states. So it's not necessarily the fault the charities, they are just trying to protect themselves from potential law suits that could arise if they didn't follow these guidelines. You really can't blame charities themselves.

And as I said the guidelines are there for a reason. Some of these food pantries have a lot of food dish out and so logistics is a problem. If you have so many tonnes of canned food it's problem in of itself to account for all the various expiry dates. That's a lot of work if you have so many hundreads if not thousands of pounds of preserved foods with varying dates. If you open something like an over-sized can and hand it out in individual portions you now have to keep track of opening it up properly and cleanly, keeping track of when it was opened/how fresh it is. Even something like opening a bag of rice can raise a lot of questions. And  I think we can all agree that there is a certain common sense in not giving out food beyond its expired date.

And on top of all that organizing, if you now need to keep track of fresh and frozen meat it gets way more complicated. When was the food frozen? was it frozen properly? Was it treated, cut, cleaned properly? Where did it come from? Who gave it? How many freezers do we need? Are the freezers being maintained properly? How do we pay for the cost of refrigeration/freezing?

The bottom line is that there is a lot of common sense in these rules. Especially when food pantries are often run by volunteers. I honestly feel that these rules keep food pantries simple, and by keeping them simple you make them more efficient, less costly and ultimately and most importantly, safe.
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#24
(11-03-2009, 10:16 PM)jovan66102 Wrote:
(11-03-2009, 10:03 PM)StrictCatholicGirl Wrote: It could very well be that they want the money to buy a pack of cigarettes instead of a sandwich. If they told the truth they might not get the money. Mother Teresa of Calcutta noted that often the sick refused food and asked for a cigarette because most would rather smoke than eat  – so she told her sisters to sit them up and help them smoke. What difference does it make? You're giving the poor beggar what he wants - a moment of contentment and it's not going to break us.

- Lisa     

I know what you mean. In fact, if I see a beggar (by which I mean someone who is not activly asking for money, but just sitting on the sidewalk with his cap out for change) and I don't have any change, I'll often stop and ask if they smoke. They all seem to, so I'll give them a smoke or two.

To be honest, most just ask me if I have a cigarette. As a smoker myself, I never turn them down. Smokes and a bottle of booze (addiction, self-medication) seem to go with the territory. No, not everyone who smokes and drinks is poor. But almost everybody who's poor has some problem with addiction. Mental illness, zero social skills, lack of education and a continuing cycle of poverty all equals the inability to hold down a decent job.

It's a hell of a way to live, but there is hope for some of them. For others, no. As Jesus said, the poor will always be with us. It's not that we shouldn't be concerned about unjust systems that actually continue the cycle of poverty - it's just that, realistically speaking, I can't save the whole world by myself. But I can make the day a little less stressful for the person who comes into my walking space - even if it's just by giving him a dollar, a cigarette, a kindhearted hello..
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#25
(11-03-2009, 10:48 PM)Fidelis Wrote: I disagree with the article, a lot of those rules are put in place as good precautions to protect the homeless. I can see where everyone in this thread is coming from but at the same time we can't excuse these requirements as being purely bureaucratic. We have to keep in mind practicality.

First of all, it has to be said that a lot of these requirements are enforced by charities because of our law suit culture, especially in the states. So it's not necessarily the fault the charities, they are just trying to protect themselves from potential law suits that could arise if they didn't follow these guidelines. You really can't blame charities themselves.

And as I said the guidelines are there for a reason. Some of these food pantries have a lot of food dish out and so logistics is a problem. If you have so many tonnes of canned food it's problem in of itself to account for all the various expiry dates. That's a lot of work if you have so many hundreads if not thousands of pounds of preserved foods with varying dates. If you open something like an over-sized can and hand it out in individual portions you now have to keep track of opening it up properly and cleanly, keeping track of when it was opened/how fresh it is. Even something like opening a bag of rice can raise a lot of questions. And  I think we can all agree that there is a certain common sense in not giving out food beyond its expired date.

And on top of all that organizing, if you now need to keep track of fresh and frozen meat it gets way more complicated. When was the food frozen? was it frozen properly? Was it treated, cut, cleaned properly? Where did it come from? Who gave it? How many freezers do we need? Are the freezers being maintained properly? How do we pay for the cost of refrigeration/freezing?

The bottom line is that there is a lot of common sense in these rules. Especially when food pantries are often run by volunteers. I honestly feel that these rules keep food pantries simple, and by keeping them simple you make them more efficient, less costly and ultimately and most importantly, safe.

I understand what you’re saying too but I think the OP’s point could be summed up in this paragraph:

Quote: Little by little the Church has been shackled by the laws of the land, by the drive for cash, by fear of litigation. Rather than being bound by Our Lord's commission to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, the business of helping others has become professionalized.  It is no longer possible for the Bride of Christ to just do good in His Name.

In the story of the loaves and fishes, Jesus told his disciples: YOU feed them. See, WE individuals are called to charity, and while the large food pantries and soup kitchens and charitable organizations have their place, we have alternatives.. There's the Interfaith Hospitality Network, for example, which depends on a different family to roll up their sleeves and bring a hot home-cooked meal every night. They sit down at the same table and actually eat the meal they cooked with the homeless and hungry; they break bread, they talk, they know their names. Now, that gets people like you and me involved in real hands-on helping – rather than holding “canned good drives” where people empty out the old stuff in their cupboards without looking at the expiration dates – without ever seeing and interacting with the "multitudes" Jesus told his disciples to feed.

- Lisa
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#26
The INN where you are must be a lot less regulated than our neck of the woods. They won't take any home cooked meals. 

They do regulate a soup kitchen that is in our neighborhood. It's a couple of doors down from the garage where they keep the sanitation trucks. They are not permitted to have a stove there because it is considered a fire hazard. Consequently, all the cooking they do is on a hot plate. How crazy is that? Oh, and it is just steps away from the pier where I catch the fish that I can't give away.

I agree about the cigarettes. There was a homeless man parked in a strip mall where I was doing some business. I saw him asking for cigarettes while I was outside smoking. He didn't ask me for one. A man coming into the electronics store I was visiting handed him the one he had been smoking. Blech. Anyway, there was a CVS in the mall. When I was done, I went in there and asked if they knew the guy and what he smoked. Turns out he purchased a particular brand of loose tobacco. I bought some and tucked a $10 bill into the bag and gave it to him. He was ecstatic.
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#27
Quote:In the story of the loaves and fishes, Jesus told his disciples: YOU feed them. See, WE individuals are called to charity, and while the large food pantries and soup kitchens and charitable organizations have their place, we have alternatives.. There's the Interfaith Hospitality Network, for example, which depends on a different family to roll up their sleeves and bring a hot home-cooked meal every night. They sit down at the same table and actually eat the meal they cooked with the homeless and hungry; they break bread, they talk, they know their names. Now, that gets people like you and me involved in real hands-on helping – rather than holding “canned good drives” where people empty out the old stuff in their cupboards without looking at the expiration dates – without ever seeing and interacting with the "multitudes" Jesus told his disciples to feed.

- Lisa

But what has the Church dictated we must do vs. what we should do vs. what we can do? Remember that, and this is the danger of self-interpretation of Scripture, that the original Apostles/Disciples would be Bishops today. We must make sure we do not fall into the Protestant error of see the Apostles as being representatives of us (i.e. random Catholics with no Holy Orders) back then.
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#28
Somehow I don't think that there is error in taking the commission to feed the hungry into our own hands. If we left it up to the Bishops ... well ... I won't go there.
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#29
Yes, it's important to help, but we have to do it in the proper way.  I have been working for a charity for my whole adult life and I understand the reason for those regulations which frustrate everybody.   The food we give to the homeless and the hungry should meet the same hygiene and safety standards as the food served in restaurants.  Why?  Because to do otherwise places vulnerable people at risk.  Same with volunteers - around the holidays people get the idea that they want to go to a shelter and feed the homeless for a day, or they want to help out in a daycare center, but when they see the mountain of paperwork and the background checks they have to go through before being trained, they lose interest and complain that the bureaucrats are stopping them from helping.  But why should anybody who hasn't been trained or screened be allowed access to children or ill adults?   

One of my friends had some tough times and said that it was very difficult for her to go to the food pantry to get supplies for herself and her children.  She might start having free picnics in the park for anybody who wants to come - she'll advertise them at the food pantries.  This way she can skirt health department regulations,  and it will be more than just food - games, community, networking, etc.   I'd recommend that anybody who wants to distribute prepared food think about doing it that way.  She's calling them "potlucks" so it's eat at your own risk. 

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#30
Picnics in the park are an excellent idea. It reminds me of the tradition of St. Joseph's table and St. Anthony's bread.
There is no reason why anyone who wants to do so can't just load up their car or van or little red wagon and give away food if they wish.

Yes, there are rules and as I initially said, there is a reason for those rule. But how does it make sense that you cannot divide up a 50 or 100 lb sack of rice or pasta for distribution?
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