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[REASON] Fort Worth Regulators Target Community Fridges Providing Free Food for People in Need

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by Os Trigonum, Jan 16, 2021.

  1. ThatBoyNick

    ThatBoyNick Member

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    I don't see how the issues are fixable without having someone man the fridge and ensure the safety of the food, and at that point, I'd imagine it's no longer an economical solution. Perhaps if it were managed virtually with multiple cameras and proper lighting? It just seems like the solutions would be more difficult and expensive than more effective, safer, alternatives.

    Perhaps just sealed foods and a thermometer that alerts someone when at unsafe levels? I'm not sure how that would be kept up with.
     
    #21 ThatBoyNick, Jan 16, 2021
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2021
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  2. Major

    Major Member

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    But we don't regulate everything private citizens do. If I put food out on my porch and post on Craigslist that people are welcome to it, do we want government regulating that? Or I give food to a homeless person on the street? I could have poisoned that food or whatever else. We have book exchanges all over the place where people can leave books and others can take them - someone could lace a book with poison, but we don't put all sorts of regulations on it. We accept there are certain risks of life.

    Temperature is easy to regulate with the sensors mentioned earlier - I'm fully on board that we should ensure the fridges work OK. What else are we trying to protect against?

    What are those alternatives, and who is responsible for implementing them? Keep in mind these community fridges are individual citizens doing charity of their own volition to try to help people in their communities. Is this really something we try to regulate out of existence if they don't do it perfectly?
     
  3. KingCheetah

    KingCheetah Contributing Member

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    I have an amazing new veal recipe I'd like to share...
     
  4. pgabriel

    pgabriel Contributing Member

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    Its not that simple. Its a government agency. Something like that has to be approved followed up etc. The refrigerators are in the open not. monitored
     
  5. DonnyMost

    DonnyMost clean your room bucko

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    One idea I've heard of is the sunset provision, which basically puts all laws into a cycle of review every 10 or so years for their extension or cancelation.
     
  6. Invisible Fan

    Invisible Fan Insider Newsletter™ 2X Diamond Member

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    Anyone who has ever lived with a communal fridge will attest. Only takes one person...
     
  7. rocketsjudoka

    rocketsjudoka Contributing Member

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    To respond to a few issues brought up here. While certainly the goal of feeding hungry people is admirable the risk of an outbreak of food poisoning is nothing to be overlooked especially while we are facing a pandemic.

    I agree that an outcome based enforcement in situations like this might be better than a prescriptive based (where the result of keeping food at a constant safe temperature) is a good idea. As someone who has been opposite health officials on that very thing that isn't that easy. The reason why code officials go with prescriptive approach is that they gives certainty to the official since they know how that is works and as such don't need to inspect the facilities constantly rather than an outcome approach where they have to make sure the outcome is always being met.

    Yes there is plenty of technology that can allow for remote monitoring of refrigeration. My client that lost a lot of merchandise to a compressor failure as part of the remodel of his store we put in all new freezers and coolers with temperature and compressor sensors internet accessible. Anytime there is a failure the store managers get a warning on a phone app. There is stuff like that off the shelf and also in newer model of consumer refrigerators. Like most things though this is adding more of a cost to what is by definition a money losing exercise.

    I understand the motivations for doing this and while Ft Worth would like to see this work. Again this seems like one of those well meaning things where a lot could go wrong.
     
  8. rocketsjudoka

    rocketsjudoka Contributing Member

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    The problem I see with this is basically just saying looking as it as charity so you take it as you can. And if it happens to make you sick well that's the risk you get with free food. The problem with that is that even if the motivation is good sickening people while hospitals are already stressed is going to create far more problems than just addressing hunger.

    Keep in mind too there are plenty of charities and shelters that will take perishable food such as less than ideal produce from stores and excess from restaurants. Even there there are rules. You can't knowingly give food that is spoiled or other might be harmful.
    If it was me running the food drive or as a Ft. Worth health inspector I would limit unattended food distribution to non-perishable and dried goods. Any goods that are perishable especially things like dairy, eggs and meat products would only be handed directly to the people who need it through a food drive.

    Even monitoring the fridges in the climate like Ft. Worth food could spoil very fast without refrigeration. Imagine leaving some cottage cheese in a metal box out in the Texas sun for a couple of hours. I doubt anyone would want to eat that.
     
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  9. pgabriel

    pgabriel Contributing Member

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    The government is responsible to make sure the public doesn'tt sick from food prepared by others as well as food that can go bad.

    We are currently in a situation where the government didn't give full guidance in a health situation.

    Charities couldn't give out perishables without oversight
     
    #29 pgabriel, Jan 16, 2021
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2021
  10. pgabriel

    pgabriel Contributing Member

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    @Os Trigonum

    Like your title. The government's number one responsibility is protecting people. Its not regulation, its doing its job
     
  11. Os Trigonum

    Os Trigonum Houston Knicks fan
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    I just have to say, from when I worked in NYC and would be having my lunch in the bottom level of Grand Central . . . it's awfully hard to sit outside the Oyster House watching the homeless go from garbage can to garbage can, grazing the lunchtime workers' thrown away food, and eating that food hunched over the garbage can. Seems to me that everything that folks can do to lessen that struggle for existence is a Good Thing, and government ought to work with charitable providers (as it seems like they are trying to do in Ft Worth) rather than standing in the way out of pure bureaucratic intransigence.
     
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  12. Major

    Major Member

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    So as a health inspector, would you come after me if I put some milk or eggs in an ice box outside my house and told everyone on my street they are welcome to them? Or if I took some cold milk to homeless people on the street and gave it to them?
     
  13. Major

    Major Member

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    Is it protecting people, though? It's telling people in need that they can't have food because there is a small chance it might be spoiled and it hasn't been checked by authorities. Is that person who needed food better off?
     
  14. pgabriel

    pgabriel Contributing Member

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    There are food options. Doing perishables is just too difficult to regulate. When health inspectors go in restaurants they actually look at the food not just temperature. It was a nice idea
     
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  15. ThatBoyNick

    ThatBoyNick Member

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    Making them cabinets with only sealed dried foods sounds a lot safer.


    Overall, things like hunger aren't going to be solved through random charitables acts, it's a systemic problem nationwide that spurs from things like poverty, parental neglect, mental illness, and so on. I'm all for being charitable, having sustainable community efforts (I like the idea of planting food trees/shrubs around the city, community gardens), and I understand the libertarian crowd already hates the idea of gubment solutions / love individual charity as cure alls, but I don't think being wary of an unintended refrigerator is mindless bureaucracy
     
  16. Buck Turgidson

    Buck Turgidson Mineshaft Enthusiast

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    Well, this certainly turned into a silly argument.

    And no, I'm not new to the D&D.
     
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  17. rocketsjudoka

    rocketsjudoka Contributing Member

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    If you handed it to them directly I wouldn't see a problem as you are personally following the chain of distrubution. If you did set up an ice box outside your house and just left milk and eggs as a health inspector I would say that's not a good idea and ask you to take it down because unless you are there keeping an eye on the box and making sure it stays cold from stocking to distribution it's out of your control.

    These regulations aren't just for the safety of those taking the food but for your own too. If you hand out food in a negligent manner you are liable. Even claiming being a good Samaritan doesn't excuse you from liability. In fact if we were to relax these these standards we are likely going to see a situation where individuals and businesses use this to dump expired and food that potentially isn't safe under the cover of humanitarian relief.
     
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  18. rocketsjudoka

    rocketsjudoka Contributing Member

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    This is essentially a modified caveat emptor where the argument is that these people will dig through dumpsters so then it should be fine to let them access donated food even if it might not be stored safely.

    Many localities have regulations that dumpsters should be secured to prevent people from rooting through them so its not as though that is considered acceptable either.

    This again is one of those situations where good intentions could lead to more problems. On Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" there was a direct illustration of this. When he was in Haiti and he was at a street stall he decided to buy out all of that days food from the stall and give it to the hungry people watching the shoot. He felt this would be an easy way to make a small difference in that moment. What happened though was that as soon as word got out that free food was being handed out many many more people showed up demanding food, also other food stalls demanded he buy them out to. What he thought would be a simple nice gesture ended up being a riot as people fought each other to get food and food vendors fought to try sell Bourdain all of their food.

    The argument that bureaucratic intransigence gets in the way of good intentions is true in many cases but in many cases there is a reason for those rules and a reason to enforce those rules. Merely saying we're going to make exceptions because of humanitarian reasons without considering the implications could be very problematic.

    One more example that is very relevant. With rush to develop vaccines for COVID-19 several have now been allowed for use under a humanitarian exception. While this speeds up and even bypasses some of the normal reviews these weren't taken lightly or just because we are in a pandemic. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have still gone through Phase 3 testing with more people than in normal testing. They were approved early under the humanitarian exception but still went through rigorous testing for safety.
     
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  19. pgabriel

    pgabriel Contributing Member

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    And the government is liable and responsible for caring for victims if someone gets sick. There are too many risks
     
  20. Os Trigonum

    Os Trigonum Houston Knicks fan
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    all of this is true, but there are places where these programs are being run very successfully. My older daughter is a school teacher in Oakland CA, currently home while remote teaching, and she says these things are all over Oakland--run by a group called Town Fridge. They're up to a dozen or so locations, which is pretty good in six months' time.

    Screen Shot 2021-01-17 at 11.25.04 AM.png

    I don't think anyone is saying "let's poison the poor and the homeless," but I do think folks make a good case that these kinds of charitable programs deserve serious consideration (if not support) rather than being dismissed out of hand as too "risky"
     
    #40 Os Trigonum, Jan 17, 2021
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2021

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