Clinton urges others to feed poor -- The Washington Times

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Clinton urges others to feed poor -- The Washington Times
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Decemb= er 24, 1999

Clin= ton urges others to feed poor By Joy= ce Howard Price
President Clinton wants more restaurants, hotels, and other org= anizations and businesses to gather up leftovers to feed the hungry.<= /p>

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.
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0"W= 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= ent said.
=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= =2E
=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.
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0= "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= oyee said.
=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.
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0Cynthia Rowla= 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.
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0"We re= 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= ducts.
=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.
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0Asked= 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."
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0The Agricultur= 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=A0=A0= =A0=A0But Mr. Doyle of the restaurant coalition says he sees the new camp= aign "as more of a gimmick than a solution."


Updated at 6:20 a.m.

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