My Home Church Makes the CBC

Extremely ludicrous but here’s the story. My home parish (Christ Church Cathedral) has a sandwich project for folks living on the streets (of which they are an increasing number daily here in Vancouver). Some little old ladies, straight out of Central Casting (as they say) make sandwiches that they keep in their home bring to the church and then we keep them in our fridge at the church.

Well the lovely bureaucrats in the Health Inspection Department are worried about the food safety risks to the homeless population from possibly old meatloaf form our church.

Some classic nanny state here:

The health authority normally investigates food programs after a public complaint is made. In this case, there’s been no record of illness.


An environment health officer will meet with two parishioners who are part of the program on Friday, to ensure they know how to handle perishable ingredients and how to comply with the required health standards, Murray said.

Meanwhile on the streets of the Downtown East Side in SRO (single room occupancies, think Skid Row kinda stuff) the latest craze is flesh-eating bacteria. No joke. The SROs have communal bathrooms and extremely unsafe, non-hygienic conditions where the bacterias spread like wildfire. And that’s for the people who actually live in a place. Much less you know eating out of garbage cans, possible drug use/addiction, sleeping on the street during the winter, including possible violence bodily violence danger (either from police or other street elements). So no I don’t think a tuna sandwich is the biggest health risk these folks face.

If the city government wants to create a by the books inspection passing shelter and restaurant-quality place to give food away to this population, by all means. If they do that hell I’d be all for even closing down the church one. Or build legitimate housing. But this is just pathetic. Either do something about the issue or leave people the hell alone. Choose one or the other.

The Church is going to continue the program in some fashion or another. I must confess to skipping the post-church meeting a week or two back on the precise details of what they are doing now.

I don’t really care about the Church too much–if they have to make the sandwiches on site than that’s more of an inconvenience to be sure to the parishioners and that ain’t cool. But my main peeve is the ignorance that this displays from government officials in terms of the actual lives of homeless people. Just institutional bureaucratic out-of-touch ignorance at its supreme.

Here’s a wild idea: ask the people who come for the food service their thoughts on the matter, whether they feel it’s safe or not. And their opinion of what the government could do to help them–I don’t know this for a fact but I”m going to take a wild guess that this won’t be at the top of their list.

The good that could come out of this is shinning light on the actual existence of our homeless and affiliated populations.  Governments don’t care about the poor.  Liberals are supposed to back the middle class, urban multicultural crowd, and new rich.  Conservatives the rich (and rural populations on cultural issues).  But nobody cares about the poor politically.

Published in: on May 9, 2008 at 7:22 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. CJ,

    My sympathies. Your cause seems just. You have simply encountered Institutional Inertia.

    How rightous would you feel if there was an outbreak of fatal food poisoning directly connected to the food you serve? Even if the poisoning was caused by poor packaging from a manufacturer, you would end up being the hand of death or dispair to those you are trying to help. In the USA, statistically speaking, “pot-luck” food has innocently killed and sickened more people than professional food service.

    As for your lament that no one cares for the poor, well you are wrong. You and I both do, as do many who are not writing on these pages. It is an Indistinct Union of people who do care. However CJ, if you organize your charges to vote as a block and be involved in the system that controls them, you might see real attention paid to them by health officials. Poverty is not a barrier to effective citizenship or activism. Ignorance is.



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