er 24, 1999
ton urges others to feed poor
ce Howard Price
President Clinton wants more restaurants, hotels, and other org=
anizations and businesses to gather up leftovers to feed the hungry.<=
President Clinton wants more restaurants, hotels, and other =
organizations and businesses to gather up leftovers to feed the hungry, b=
ut the White House throws out its own leftovers.
ith this administration, there's a lot of 'Do as I say, not as I =
do.' On the face of it, this is hypocritical," said John Doyle, s=
pokesman for the Guest Choice Network, a coalition of more than 30,000 re=
staurants and taverns.
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0Mr. Clinton is urging Americans =
to stop the "appalling" habit of throwing out 96 billion pounds o=
f food each year =97 an amount he says is more than enough to feed all of=
the nation's hungry people.
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0"In every communit=
y, civic-minded people ought to take an inventory of how much food is bei=
ng wasted, where it is, how to gather it up, how to give it to the church=
es, the synagogues, the mosques, whoever else has a homeless mission that=
will take care of that food and get it out," Mr. Clinton said Wednes=
day during a visit to the D.C. Central Kitchen, which prepares 3,000 meal=
s daily for those in need.
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0Wasted food ranges from slig=
htly bruised fruit to uneaten trays of lasagna at restaurants, the presid=
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0But calls to the White House found no such fo=
od-gathering or "gleaning" going on there. A man who answered the=
phone at the White House Mess said its excess food is discarded. He insi=
sted the amount of food thrown out is not large but provided no specifics=
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0White House spokesman Jim Kennedy said the mess is =
a military operation, and he assumed the Pentagon sets policy for it. A N=
avy spokesman, however, denied that, saying the mess is staffed by Navy p=
ersonnel, but its policies are set by the White House. Pentagon spokesman=
Glenn Flood confirmed that.
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0As for state dinners, a sp=
okeswoman in the first lady's office said leftover food is not an iss=
ue because there's very little of it from those functions. She said t=
he chef knows how many people have been invited to a state dinner and pre=
pares for that number.
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0A staffer reached at the White H=
ouse catering office said the former policy of donating unused prepared f=
ood from catered affairs to the poor had been scrapped.
"We stopped that after lawyers told us we'd be liable if someone =
got sick. And there's a chance that could happen, because we wouldn=
39;t know if the food was kept at a safe, cool temperature," the empl=
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0That argument doesn't hold too much wate=
r. In October 1996, Mr. Clinton signed legislation that exempts those who=
donate apparently fit food and groceries from criminal or civil liabilit=
y arising from those activities.
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0A month later, Mr. Cli=
nton announced a new executive order that enabled food charities access t=
o surplus food from cafeterias, federal commissaries and other food servi=
ce facilities operated by federal agencies, following the lead of the U.S=
=2E Department of Agriculture commissary.
nd, general manager of the D.C. Central Kitchen, where the president visi=
ted Wednesday and made his plea, says that organization "would love t=
o have" access to White House leftovers.
cycle food donated by restaurants and hotels, and we prepare 3,000 meals =
per day to support mostly nonprofit social service agencies" that fee=
d the homeless and poor, Ms. Rowland said. "But I'm sure a [food =
donation] policy has been examined at their end," meaning the White H=
ouse, she added.
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0Likewise, Crystal Hair, director of de=
velopment for the Capital Area Food Bank, which works with 700 agencies i=
n the Washington area, said that network, too, would be thrilled to get e=
xcess White House food.
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0While the D.C. Central Kitchen =
accepts both perishable and nonperishable foods that are "safe for co=
nsumption," the Capital Area Food Bank needs mostly nonperishable pro=
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0"We're always in need of canned goods an=
d food staples. Maybe there are things in the White House pantry that the=
chef knows will never be used," said Ms. Hair. If so, she said, the =
Capital Area Food Bank could find a use for them.
if she believes it's hypocritical for the president to urge everyone=
else to collect leftovers for the poor when the White House isn't do=
ing that, Ms. Hair said, "Yeah."
e Department yesterday announced a new program to help people and restaur=
ants get into the habit of donating, rather than dumping, extra food. As =
part of the program, the department will seek 2,000 commitments from busi=
nesses and nonprofits to help get extra food to hungry people.
=A0=A0But Mr. Doyle of the restaurant coalition says he sees the new camp=
aign "as more of a gimmick than a solution."