Mayor Michael Bloomberg has another critic over his administration’s decision to ban food from homeless shelters, because, as CBS reported, the city “can’t assess their salt, fat and fiber content.” Public Advocate Bill de Blasio announced his opposition while challenging the basic rationality of the plan in a statement this evening.
“While I generally give this Administration high marks on protecting public health, the decision to ban food donations from shelters defies common sense,” said Mr. de Blasio, who’s a leading contender for the mayor’s office himself in 2013.
“For homeless families, these donations are a rare bright spot and a sign that their fellow New Yorkers have not forgotten them,” he continued. “Today we face both a profound hunger crisis and huge budget shortfalls—but we also have generous people and institutions willing to help. There has to be a way to make this work.”
This is hardly Mr. de Blasio’s first time criticizing Mr. Bloomberg on homeless issues. In his first policy announcement after his 2009 election to the Public Advocate’s office, Mr. de Blasio challenged the administration on a wide swath of policies affecting the homeless. Mr. Bloomberg has also recently received criticism for a policy requiring homeless people to prove their eligibility to stay in a shelter.
Update: Samantha Levine, Mr. Bloomberg’s deputy press secretary, while not directly contradicting Mr. de Blasio’s criticism, writes in to dispute the original reports of the issue:
I do want to clarify that, the contrary to the CBS story and the NY Post column that ran yesterday, there is no NEW policy (nor is there a change in policy) around food donations to homeless shelters. Homeless Services actually NEVER took donations: 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.