PA Code Enforcers Threaten Woman with $600/day Fine for Feeding Hungry Children

Saturday, August 18th, 2012

Alfred Lubrano at the Philly Inquirer reports:

A Delaware County woman who voluntarily distributes free food to children from her driveway has run afoul of officials in Chester Township who say her efforts violate zoning ordinances.

If Angela Prattis, 41, a married mother of three and the youth director of her church, does not come up with $1,000 to pay for a zoning hearing within the next year, she’ll be barred from feeding young people next summer, officials have said.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Prattis, a trained volunteer with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Nutritional Development Services, which supplies lunch and snacks five days a week. The food is paid for by the state, whose representatives have inspected and approved Prattis’ operation, according to an archdiocesan official.

This summer, Prattis has been feeding 60 children from the area in front of the two-story brick house that she and her husband own.

“It’s not like I’m selling the food,” added Prattis, a massage therapist and stay-at-home mother who also has a foster child and runs a neighborhood basketball program.

Prattis said that initially, township officials told her they would fine her $600 a day this summer unless she stopped distributing lunches and snacks to needy children. But newspapers and TV stations heard about it, and the township withdrew the fines, Prattis said Tuesday.

Township Councilman William Kennard, who Prattis said was a vocal opponent of her effort, did not return phone calls for comment.

Township Manager William Piserik said Tuesday that the township had not fined Prattis and would allow her to continue distributing food until her program’s scheduled end Aug. 24.

“No one is condemning her for feeding children that need the lunch program,” Piserik said. “But we advised her she’s violating an ordinance and was told she’d have to apply for a variance, which costs $1,000 to pay for the zoning hearing.

“I’m assuming she’ll sit down and discuss it with the Township Council and the solicitor. Nobody’s against the program, but folks don’t want the program set up in the lady’s front driveway.”

Piserik said “we got a complaint” about the program, but would not elaborate.

I am reminded of Radley Balko’s thesis that “libertarianism happens to people“. I am also reminded of that immortal line from the Declaration of Independence:

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

Here is the “Support Angela Prattis lunch program” group on Facebook.

-Eapen Thampy

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12 Responses to “PA Code Enforcers Threaten Woman with $600/day Fine for Feeding Hungry Children”

  1. #1 |  Xenocles | 

    “We got a complaint.”

    Perhaps she should exercise her right to confront her accuser. I think if we knew his name he’d really have something to complain about.

  2. #2 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    In her place (which I’m not a nice enough person to be, but for the sake of argument…) I would tell the Township ‘Authorities’ (read nitwits) that I would continuously generate the worst possible publicity about them until they backed off, and then I would consult with a lawyer expert in Civil Rights cases to see if a suit on grounds of denial of free exercise of religion could go forward. This is a flat out case of anything the State takes it into its head to do, it will brook no competition lest its essential incapacity be revealed. The State thinks it should have a monopoly on charity. The State needs to be reminded whose choke collar it wears.

  3. #3 |  Fred | 

    Eric Bolling of Fox news is going to pay the $1000.00 for her
    http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/the-five/transcript/good-samaritan-faces-fine-feeding-hungry

  4. #4 |  Kolohe | 

    I wonder if Mr. Kennard is one of those ‘small government’ Republicans

  5. #5 |  AlgerHiss | 

    Delaware County PA website:

    http://www.co.delaware.pa.us/

  6. #6 |  Or gone | 

    How would you like to live next to someone attracting 60 poor kids a day into the neighborhood?

    What an asshole. Probably a Christian, too.

  7. #7 |  Jim | 

    wow.

  8. #8 |  KBCraig | 

    “It’s unbelievable,” said Prattis, a trained volunteer with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Nutritional Development Services, which supplies lunch and snacks five days a week. The food is paid for by the state, whose representatives have inspected and approved Prattis’ operation, according to an archdiocesan official.

    Suddenly I’m much less sympathetic. This is not the individual against the state, it’s competing governmental fiefdoms, both side of which are squandering tax money.

  9. #9 |  Too Much | 

    Mr. Kennard is a big government Democrat!

  10. #10 |  Tom Doughy | 

    Houston Tx has adopted a ‘no feeding’ the hapless ordinance. An effort to repeal was quashed and city hall will decide who gets fed and where they eat.

  11. #11 |  CK | 

    Ah if only I ran the world, I would require functionaries whose defense is ” We received a complaint”, to name the complainant, their distance from the problem they are reporting, and any relationship they might have with local government and police. As in: “This police department received a complaint from Someone J. Citizen resident at some address 20 city blocks from the reported issue, that there was feeding going on. Ms Citizen is mother-in-law of mayor Bupkiss and father to police Chief Mulligan.
    I would require this not just of funny ladies being reported for feeding the unfed but also for funny gents reporting competitive drug dealers on the local boulevards.
    To Mr Orgone: Once they have been properly fed and fattened; you can follow the William Claude Dunkenfield recipe for children. yas yas.

  12. #12 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    “The free market won’t feed kids!”
    “Why?”
    “Because we’ve made it illegal for it to do so!”

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