Yesterday, we walked down the Bowery and took an extremely unscientific poll to find out how New York’s homeless population feels about Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s crusade to keep the city’s hobos from ingesting salt by not allowing do-gooders to donate food to city-run homeless shelters (because the city can’t assess the nutritional value of donated food, it’s off-limits for the homeless — despite how hungry they may be).
Following our poll — which showed that 10 out of 10 homeless New Yorkers agree that wasting perfectly good food when people desperately need it is idiotic — the mayor’s office told the Voice that the decision to not allow food donations wasn’t made by Bloomberg. In fact, the mayor’s office says, it’s not even new, and that the man who wrote the op-ed exposing the policy, National Center for Public Policy Research senior fellow Jeff Stier, has his facts wrong, that the policy has been in place for years.
Stier, who worked in the administration of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani,
says he honestly doesn’t know when the policy was put in place (because
the city refused to tell him), but Bloomberg’s the only mayor “radical
enough” to actually enforce it because it’s consistent with his
administration’s nutritional guidelines for New York.
Before we get to Stier’s response, below is what Bloomberg’s spokeswoman Samantha
Levine told us yesterday about Stier’s op-ed:
To clarify: the writer in the Post
several weeks ago was mistaken. There is no new policy (nor has there been a
change in policy) around food donations to homeless shelters. Homeless
Services actually never took food donations in the City’s homeless
shelters: 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.
“If this isn’t a new policy, no mayor prior to Bloomberg has ever enforced it,” Stier tells the Voice. “That’s the best they can do — the best they’ve got in defense of this policy is not that it’s a good policy, but that it’s not a new policy.”
says that when he asked the city’s Department of Homeless Services
Commissioner Seth Diamond when the policy was put in place, Diamond
wouldn’t say, claiming he wasn’t sure.
maintains that no matter when the policy was put in place, Bloomberg is
only enforcing it in his effort to dictate what New Yorkers can and
In other words, Mike Bloomberg’s nanny-state nutrition cops have struck again.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 4, 2012