“Gourmet” Soup Kitchens

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by Patrick Appel

Via Balloon Juice, Julie Gunlock complains that food for the homeless is too fancy.

A recent meal served at the Meet Each Need with Dignity (MEND) kitchen in Pacoima, Calif., included pumpkin soup seasoned with browned butter and sage, red-wine barbecue beef on handmade puff pastry, artichoke hearts with meatballs marinara, roasted-garlic-and-turnip mashed potatoes, all topped off with fresh blueberries and sour cream. No wonder these places need a bailout.

Gunlock is upset because $150 million of stimulus money was given to homeless shelters. Unfortunately for her, MEND doesn't take government money. Regardless, obesity is concentrated among the poor and the uneducated. More healthful food should be a priority. Gunlock acknowledges that "it is certainly a worthy goal for food kitchens to endeavor to provide a healthy meal to those they serve" but then goes on to critique kitchens for throwing anyway donated donuts because it "betrays an expanding food snobbery." Oy.

(Chart from Adam Drewnowski and SE Specter's 2004 article on poverty and obesity)