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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Potluck police

Look out! Prohibition agents might just raid your church basement or fellowship hall, confiscate your hot dish and lock up the social committee. As members of St. Mark Lutheran Church, Indianapolis, learned: In some places, church potlucks are illegal.

Illustration by Michael D. Watson.Since January, an Indiana food sanitation law requires nonprofits to hire certified food handlers whenever food is served.

That law is "ludicrous," Roger Tappert, pastor of St. Mark, told the Indianapolis Star (Feb. 13), adding: "We will do our own thing until somebody says you absolutely cannot."

And in Holden, Mass., stomachs rumbled uneasily as a health board asked Immanuel Lutheran Church to name its certified food handler.

"Fortunately we have a member who works in the public school's food service area ... she was willing to be listed," said Daniel Wilfrid, pastor.

State Sen. Thomas Weatherwax, a Presbyterian, told the Star that Indiana lawmakers didn't want to disrupt church potlucks but to prevent food-borne illnesses at restaurants.

Indiana legislators are considering allowing churches and other nonprofits to hold no more than 30 potlucks yearly, as long as members prepare the dishes and label them with the name of the cook.


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