New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has banned food donations to homeless shelters. Because the city is enforcing nutritional standards on shelters, and the food that well-meaning people donate to feed homeless people might have too much salt and fat and not enough fiber.
There's obvious paternalism at work here, though it hasn't been directed only at homeless people; Bloomberg has made a priority of food health and safety initiatives directed at all New Yorkers, and has been met by significant protest at times. But that's probably not the only motive here. Horace Boothroyd III suggests we should follow the money, and indeed, city shelters use institutional vendors to prepare the approved foods. What, one wonders, are the wages and working conditions at those vendors, and what are the profit margins?
Meanwhile, as Sarah Jaffe points out, Bloomberg's commitment to making sure even homeless people have access to nutritionally balanced foods doesn't extend to asking grocery delivery service FreshDirect to accept nutritional assistance benefits or deliver to the poor neighborhood where its new taxpayer-funded facility will be located. So there's definitely reason to ask under what circumstances poor people's access to nutritious foods becomes an actionable priority for Bloomberg.