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Food Preparation Amendment Passes with Added Restrictions

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At this week’s meeting, the Lubbock City Council approved the first reading of an ordinance amendment regarding food safety regulations, following the City shutting down a privately cooked meal for the homeless in mid-July.

District 3 Lubbock City Councilman Todd Klein originally proposed the ordinance amendment, which would have allowed Lubbockites to serve any type of food prepared in a home kitchen to any groups they would like, without any intervention from the City, as long as there was no charge required.

District 5 Councilwoman Karen Gibson offered an amendment to Klein’s original amendment, which would require that gloves and hand sanitizer for those serving the food be provided at the feeding site, set temperatures for the food to be stored at, and that the feeding site must be left in a clean, waste-free condition. Food must be served within four hours of preparation.

Gibson voiced her reason for offering the changes, saying “I understand that people are wanting to feed the homeless, and I appreciate that. I don’t want to take away that they deserve the same standards.”

Under Gibson’s amendment, City inspectors have the ability to check these conditions at a feeding site for public groups, a measure which Klein did not support.

“Where you have people that gather together at no charge, it is not a general public event. They, by their choice as free citizens in this society, are coming together. When they break bread at no charge, that is not historically what we consider to be the general public, nor is it necessary…You’re clearly stipulating a role for government to now discern, which is not going to be enforceable, where we have people engaging in that sort of activity,” Klein said.

Gibson’s amendment also originally would have required registration to be able to put on large-scale public gatherings with food prepared in a non-certified kitchen, but that section was later removed.

The original vote on Klein’s ordinance amendment failed, but District 1 Councilman Victor Hernandez moved to reconsider the item with Gibson’s amendment, with the exception of the registration requirement.

The amended item passed 5 to 1, Klein dissenting and District 4 Councilman Paul Beane absent.

Klein discussed the amendment following the meeting, saying “In a free society, you have to have limited government. And what we’re talking about is not enforceable, not necessary, and most definitely not appropriate.”

Klein says that he will continue to try to change the ordinance amendment up until the second reading, which would finalize it.

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