Green Room

NYC Mayor Bloomberg bans food donations to homeless shelters (Update)

posted at 3:29 pm on March 20, 2012 by

In a perverse variation on the magnanimous expression “Your money’s no good here,” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has adopted a new policy that might be encapsulated as “Your donation’s no good here”—except he means it.

The watchdog group My Food. My Choice! explains:

[T]he [Bloomberg] administration is now forbidding you from donating food to government-run homeless shelters because he has to monitor the salt, fat, and calorie content of the food being served.


A mayoral task force and the Department of Homeless Services have joined forces to go beyond just dictating the nutritional standards at the city’s shelters.

Well, isn’t that special? The man who decreed that your sodium intake is his business and who spends a quarter million dollars of taxpayers’ money on three personal chefs is now refusing to allow good-hearted New Yorkers to help out their homeless brethren. His reason? Their edible donations may not stack up to his high standards of nutrition and food safety.

So how is his food safety initiative working out? That would be his system of assigning a letter grade to New York restaurants based on violation points assigned by his crack team of health inspectors. The program, which was launched in 2010, requires eating establishments to display their letter grade in a prominent location on the façade.

What does a restaurant need to do to earn an “A”? Judging from three branches of the coffee chain Starbucks that made the grade, contamination with fecal organisms is a good start. An investigation by the Department of Clinical Microbiology and Immunology at New York University Langone Medical Center revealed that the establishments tested positive for Enterococcus, fecal strep, E. coli, and Klebsiella.

An article in the New York Post quotes DHS Commissioner Seth Diamond as explaining that the ban on food donations “is consistent with Mayor Bloomberg’s emphasis on improving nutrition for all New Yorkers.” But the article’s author, Jeff Stier, wonders whether “the real driver behind the ban is the Bloomberg dietary diktats.”

With friends like Bloomie, another saying goes, who needs enemies?

UPDATE (3-20, 7:20 p.m.): I received an email from Samantha Levine, Deputy Press Secretary for the Office of the Mayor, that states:

[C]ontrary to NY Post column that ran yesterday, there is no NEW policy (nor has there a change in policy) around food donations to NYC homeless shelters. The Department of Homeless Services actually NEVER took donations: the shelter system is very heavily regulated—even beyond the City’s nutritional guidelines—with specific requirements around food handling and serving that leave little room for donations.

I don’t know about you, but that makes me feel much better.

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Food donations to be replaced by State-contracted chicken nuggets, no doubt.

dkmonroe on March 20, 2012 at 3:41 PM

So I take it that it’s healthier for the homeless to eat nothing than eat food that might be a tad high on calories, sodium, etc.

Bitter Clinger on March 20, 2012 at 3:51 PM

The slippery slope continues

cmsinaz on March 20, 2012 at 3:53 PM

Stupid but serious question: why doesn’t the entire city of NY just tell the Mayor to jump in the Hudson, and simply refuse to obey this outrageous order? People like Bloomberg are cowards who would quickly wilt and retreat when faced with actual opposition.

jwolf on March 20, 2012 at 4:11 PM

But but Nanny Bloomberg cares and feels more pasionately than you do. At least Marie Antoinette was willing to let people eat cake, if they could find anything to eat. Abusing the power of the state this way ought to be grounds for loss of all your worldly posessions AND being forced thereafter to live under the rules you implemented. Instead some 50% of dopes somewhere will re-elect him.

AnotherOpinion on March 20, 2012 at 4:19 PM

Same thing happened a few years ago here near Seattle. The homeless were getting fat off of surplus donuts, so they had to set up free sessions at area health clubs.

Nurse Bloomberg will have to speed up the deployment neighborhood pink slime dispensaries.

pedestrian on March 20, 2012 at 4:37 PM

The all seeing and wonderful Bloomberg would prefer they eat Soylent Green provided by nanny.

djtnt on March 20, 2012 at 5:40 PM

They may be sleeping on ventilation grates and park benches, but they’re cholesterol counts and BMI were really good!

gravityman on March 20, 2012 at 5:46 PM

I would be this has not a damn thing to do with the health of the homeless.

I’m guessing here is what actually is going on with this…

If the homeless shelters stop taking donations, then the city will have to buy more food to make up the difference. I’m sure the city has a contract with some food supplier to stock these shelters. The city will need to increase it’s contract with that supplier to provide more food to make up the difference. The revenues for that supplier will be increased, at the expense of the NYC taxpayers. I guarantee you someone is making money on this deal, and I would bet my last dollar that somewhere there is a VP at the supplier who came up with this brilliant plan, and a lobbyist for that supplier who sold this to Bloomberg (probably greasing the wheels with a donation to his reelection campaign).

gravityman on March 20, 2012 at 6:01 PM

Pink slime ok, salt not ok. OK. Gravityman’s answer is probably closest to the truth. AFTM.

Kissmygrits on March 20, 2012 at 7:13 PM

Hey, as long as they’re passing out condoms.

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