Free Lunch?


Do this. Don’t do that. Stay back in line. Where’s tax receipt? Fill out form. Let’s see license. Submit six copies. Exit only. No left turn. No right turn. Queue up and pay fine. Take back and get stamped. Drop dead — but first get permit. – Robert A. Heinlein

The small-mindedness of some people never ceases to amaze me. In a case of moving from the ridiculous to the sublime, a Pennsylvania woman who has been feeding needy children a free lunch during the summer months was turned in to the local city council by a neighbor. The lunches are provided by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and Angela Prattis donates her time to feed the kids. In addition to actually serving the meals – at a gazebo on her property – Prattis has to fill out paperwork (of course) and a state worker comes out to inspect her premises bi-weekly. But because she lives in a residential zone, she can’t hand out food to children without going to the zoning board for a variance permit, which would cost her as much as $1,000 in administrative fees. And talk about niggardly, the township manager’s comment was, “I don’t think it’s my responsibility to go to her to say, ‘why don’t you come to talk to me to see if there’s something that we can do to help your program.'”

Mind you, this is an area of severe poverty and she’s helping children who are hungry. In fact, since school was out for the summer, this may have been the one meal the kids could count on for the whole day – during the school year, they would have been eligible for reduced or free lunch and possibly breakfast at their schools. But God forbid one should do a kindness to poor children without a permit…

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