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Blumenthal Asks Legislature To Amend Law Affecting Food For Needy

MONICA POLANCO

September 26, 2009

HARTFORD - Clergy members who feed the hungry across Greater Hartford and Middletown are hoping state legislators will approve a proposal that would allow them to continue to serve home-cooked meals in soup kitchens and shelters.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has asked the legislature which is slated to continue its special session next week to amend a law that allows charitable groups to sell food prepared in unlicensed kitchens only during such events as bake sales. Blumenthal wants the law to include the free distribution of such food.

Blumenthal said he has stepped in at the request of clergy members who are concerned about how a case in Middletown will affect their ability to serve the needy. This week, the Middletown Health Department cited St. Vincent DePaul Place's soup kitchen for serving meals that were prepared in some unlicensed kitchens. The health department which has also issued a cease and desist order to an unrelated anti-hunger group is asking St. Vincent to comply with the law by serving food prepared only in licensed kitchens.

Ron Krom, St. Vincent's executive director, has scheduled a meeting with charitable organizations at 7:30 p.m. Monday to discuss food donations.

The Middletown Health Department's enforcement of the health code, Krom said, will affect all unlicensed food donations, which St. Vincent's accepts throughout the week from church youth groups and high school students, among others.

Krom and others hope the legislature will approve Blumenthal's proposal, but the state Department of Public Health opposes the measure.

The department's spokesman, William Gerrish, said the proposal is too broad.

"It's something that we would be happy to talk about, but I think the bottom line is that we feel that every Connecticut resident should benefit from safe food."

Monday's meeting at St. Vincent DePaul Place, 617 Main St. in Middletown, is open to the public.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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