Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Pasadena's Idiocy Is My Church's Gain

Ahh, the hometown of RVFTLC bunker, Pasadena, California. Got to love it. I do in many ways, but this Thanksgiving, I really hate my hometown.
It appears that the city health department has found a state code, the California Retail Food Code, that prohibits a local charity, Union Station Homeless Services, from providing food for Thanksgiving that was donated by average citizens. In other words, if our family prepared food and took it to the charity where they would take it to Pasadena Central Park and distribute it, well now they can't.
It's not like they will not be able to feed the 5,000 down and outers according to Union Station director Rabbi Marvin Gross.
Rabbi Gross was so spot on with this comment:

"Its a shame that people can't come out and donate items that some of them have done for many years. It was a loving way in which people participated in this event."

Understand that the reason it is being done is because the city health department has after many years decided to be a supposed real health department. So they actually have a city environmental health director and her name is Lisa Frias. And oh is she working a fast track. For it is her that "discovered" this horrific lapse in judgement. Allowing people to participate by bringing actual home cooking to feed these people. Miss Frias was reviewing practices and found that because the home-cooked food was not prepared in an approved, regulated facility.
Maybe she should be working on the carts across the street at one of the city's parks that I have no idea if they prepare their food in an "approved" and "regulated" facility.
But back to this.
Miss Frias could not believe that people actually would do such a thing. Like make a full turkey and drive by the distribution point and hand them off to a volunteer. Read this:

"Quite honestly, I am surprised that for all these years nobody ever looked at this."

Oh wait, it gets better:

"It really took me by surprise. Are you kidding me that people really drive up and drop off turkeys?"

Uh, no. For if you know anything about this city, Pasadena, California, you would know that this has been a big deal for 37 years. As a city, we are very generous as noted in this article also in the Star-News. And these people, it wasn't just forking out cash. It was personal. A way for these people to really say that they cared in a tangible way.
The ball-dropping over the years was pretty much a shrug of the shoulders by the city health department director, Dr. Eric Walsh. His comment:

"I honestly can't say. I can only say that once it comes to our attention we tell them the best policies and procedures."

What a pass-the-buck tool you are Dr. Walsh.
Even Miss Frias could not say a time in 37 years that anyone, anyone has reported becoming sick due to eating at the Thanksgiving event. But that doesn't mean it was not prepared under unsanitary conditions and that is a point to be well taken.
But with no record of such things, wouldn't have been better to let the event go on as it has over the 37 years and dealt with it next year? Then people who have done their thing could have been more ready. And trust me, people will still go there tomorrow and be told that they cannot accept the food.
Well, you may ask, why am I so incensed by this? What have I done or do on Thanksgiving besides eat quite well?
Well, I help my church, Church Of Our Saviour in San Gabriel. We have an outreach center and an small mission church under our leadership. That is in El Monte. The church is Immanuel and the outreach center is Our Saviour Center including the Cleaver Wellness Clinic.
In fact, tonight Mrs. RVFTLC and I made 3 trays of mashed potatoes for the 1,000 people that we will be serving late tomorrow morning and afternoon. And we don't just make them. We take them and help serve the people. For many it will be the best meal of the week. Maybe the month. And it is all prepared by volunteers from the local Immanuel Episcopal Church and Church of Our Saviour. FTR, I just peeled 15 lbs of potatoes and Mrs. RVFTLC did the rest. OK I did a little mashing.
But as this article points out, we have been doing this for years and no one has ever gotten sick. Really. And if they had, there is a wellness clinic on site that would have been able to provide a minimal amount of care.
So, what is the difference between Church of Our Saviour and Union Station Homeless Services?
Church groups have an exemption from the California Retail Food Code.
And that moniker, the California Retail Food Code. Neither group is charging for the meal so how can it fall under a retail food code for one and not the other? Again, since this was found out recently, shouldn't Union Station be given at least a year reprieve so that they do not have to deprive people of doing something from their heart?
As noted by Julie Kelly, the rector's assistant, we need the food all year around. The Our Saviour Center is constantly looking for food. And they will not turn anyone away.
It is important that people but for one day of the year feel human. And while I have a lot of issues with the Episcopal Church, this is one thing that our parish does and does right. And yeah, I will promote it. And I will promote that those that wanted to help Union Station come over to Church of Our Saviour and help out our program. This is a big deal.
As I said in the headline and it is true.
Pasadena's idiocy is my church's gain.

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