Editorial: Let Them Eat Nothing

Once again, Mikey had to stick his nose in. Only this time, it might get bitten off.

Now city food pantries are not allowed to accept any private donations of fresh food. None at all.

Allegedly, this is because there is no way to determine what the correct serving portions are for this food, or what its nutritional content is. That’s right. If you make 10 pounds of fresh, healthy vegetable lasagna and bring it down to the food pantry, they won’t take it – because they’re not sure how many calories it has.

That means if you have food leftover from your BBQ party or wedding, you’d better empty out your freezer, because the food pantry won’t take it. Don’t think you can eat 45 extra portions of chicken? Too bad, no one else can either. Apparently, we’d rather throw good food right into the dumpster if we can’t count the calories.

It’s understandable that a certain amount of red tape and bureaucracy is required to allow the city to function. It is government, after all. But this sort of wasteful idiocy just can’t be allowed. In times as hard as these, it’s nothing short of malicious to deny food – any food – to those who are starving.

We know you’ve never been hungry, Mr. Bloomberg, but we can assure you that when you are hungry – really hungry – you don’t mind the extra calories. Hell, even a bit of evil trans fat is better than nothing.

And that’s the trouble here, Mikey. When your choice is unhealthy food or nothing, the healthiest thing you can do is to chow down on that unhealthy junk. Yes, man may eventually die from making poor nutritional choices. But he will die – and a lot faster – if he makes no nutritional choices whatsoever. There is just no case where starving is better than eating.

Making healthy food choices is absolutely an important aspect of well-being that many New Yorkers overlook. We should be more health-conscious, and more discerning about what we put into our bodies. But being healthy is a luxury today, and for some, it’s not an option.

When the main focus is on just staying alive, there’s no time to waste trying to reach ideal percentages of salt, fat and sugar. Chances are, you’re not getting the correct amounts of any of those things anyway, and one balanced meal (or even five) is not going to reverse that.

This policy makes no sense. It’s impractical, it’s thoughtless and it’s endangering those who need our care.

What’s worse, this policy is a blow to already struggling food pantries. In a recession this severe and long-lasting, it’s only natural that people find themselves with less excess that they can pass on to the needy. Unfortunately, it’s also natural that in this difficult time more people are in need.

The whole point of having city food pantries is so that we can feed people who need a helping hand. How are we supposed to feed them if none of our food is good enough?

One more thing: One of the reasons America is supposed to be such a great place is because we take care of each other. As soon as you enter our bay, we have a tiny statue (it must be small, or surely the mayor would be able to make out the inscription), with a small plaque that reads “Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free.”

The plaque does not say that we’re really only looking for those who are poor, but not too poor. It’s alright though. Our mayor says that last bit for us.

Our mayor seems to be saying a lot of things for us recently. We need to eat nutritious, well-balanced meals. We can’t smoke where someone else might accidentally inhale the vapors. Not even in public parks.

Granted, all of these things seem like good ideas. These laws all seem to boil down to guidelines to help us be healthier. Or they would, if it wasn’t for one big idea. Freedom.

In America, we hold dear that it is our God-given right to live in whatever way we see fit. The idea was, as long as you’re not hurting anyone else, you can do whatever whacky things bring you closer to your pursuit of happiness.

Thing is, happiness is pretty loosely defined. That’s both the catch, and the beauty of it. It means you can follow your own drummer and live a joyous life filled with hard work, friends and regular visits to a dietician. But it also means you can draw cancer right on into your lungs, if that’s what floats your boat.

The point is, it isn’t up to you, Mayor Bloomberg, to tell us how to feed the hungry. It’s not up to you to tell us how to maintain our bodies. And it certainly isn’t up to you to curtail the city’s at-risk population through starvation.


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