Changes to a Connecticut food distribution law were approved by the General Assembly as part of the state budget on Friday. They will soon be signed into law by Governor Jodi Rell (R), according to a spokeswoman for the governor. The amendment to the law will allow food cooked in private kitchens to be distributed via charitable organizations such as soup kitchens.

Last March, the Middletown chapter of Food Not Bombs, which cooks and shares food with the community, was served a cease and desist order by the Middletown Health Department for distributing food cooked in unlicensed kitchens. The citation led to investigations of other local charitable organizations, the most recent of which was the St. Vincent DePaul soup kitchen.

In response, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal wrote a letter asking senators to amend the law allowing charitable groups to cook and sell food in unlicensed kitchens and to include the free distribution of such food. On Friday, the amendment was passed by the state Senate after already passing the House.

“I think a lot of people felt it was a common sense change, that [the law] was never intended to inhibit potluck dinners and soup kitchens from helping the homeless,” said Communications Director for Senate Democrats Derek Slap. “We don’t want government to be an impediment to people who don’t have enough.”

While the amendment makes clear that soup kitchens will be protected, there is some question as to whether or not the changes to the law will, in implementation, protect organizations such as Food Not Bombs.

“It’s focused on all nonprofit charitable organizations,” said Senator Paul Doyle (D). “It’s not specifically for soup kitchens. We made it intentionally broad, not to specify one group or another.”

Both Middletown Health Department Code Enforcement Officer Sal Nesci and the City Attorney declined to comment.

Food Not Bombs member Fred Carroll, who took responsiblity for the cease and desist order in March, said that he believes the change in the law is “one for the history books.”

“It took Food Not Bombs to get everybody out of the shadows,” he said. “Once everyone looked at it, they said, ‘That’s a stupid ordinance, so we’ll just change it.’ It’s like a municipal bowel movement.”

In September, the second part of an appeal hearing between Food Not Bombs and the Middletown Health Department concluded—Hearing Officer Stacy Owens is expected to make the decision in the coming month. As Rell has yet to sign the food distribution amendments into law, it is unclear how they will affect the case.

Either way, Doyle said he is glad the amendment was able to move through the House and Senate so efficiently.

“This is an example of why I’m in public service,” he said. “It’s an example of when state government can do something right and quickly.”

  • Anonymous

    Ok nimrod Doyle, why don’t you idiots do something to fix the economy so I can find a job?

  • r.venge

    Someone’s got to look into Nesci’s past- you’re not seeing the obvious!

    Start with his days at Quinnipiac – and his bragging of ties to organized crime.

  • anthony Cole

    I don’t realy like how they dropped the bomb bt ut it was necisary

  • anthony Cole

    they desirved it suckers

  • me

    they desirved it suckers