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Lunch lady fined for giving free meals to poor kids from her home

Angela Prattis donates food to poor kids--but officials say she is violating a zoning ordinance.

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Canned food are piled up in a market in Cabinda on January 19, 2010. (ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images)

Angela Prattis hands out free lunches during the summer to 60 children in her low-income Philadelphia neighborhood. When Chester Township officials found out, they sent her a letter--but not a thank-you note. “It’s a letter stating, ‘shut it down or face a $600 fine,’” Prattis told NBC. That's a $600 fine for each day that she distributes food.

The officials withdrew the fine after receiving negative press, and are now just asking Prattis to apply for a special zoning variance, the Associated Press reported. Oh, and the zoning variance application would cost $1,000. 

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If Prattis doesn't cough up the $1,000 for Chester Township officials, then she'll be barred from continuing the program from her home next summer, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Prattis is baffled because she already received approval for her program from officials higher up the bureaucratic latter. The food is paid for by the state of Pennsylvania, and state health officials already inspected and approved the operation. And Prattis isn't a random do-gooder, but a trained volunteer with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's Nutritional Development Services, according to the Inquirer. 

The Chester Township says that Prattis is running afoul of the law because she is distributing food from her home, which is a residential zone. Officials argue that food distribution from residential areas is not allowed, even though Prattis isn't actually selling the food, Fox News reported.

“It’s a township law,” Township Council Chairman Stanley Kester told The Delaware County Times, defending the Council's demand for $1,000 from Prattis. “We are not picking on her because she’s feeding kids. It’s an honorable thing to do. But she can’t do it there."

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/120817/lunch-lady-fined-giving-free-meals-poor-kids