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Indiana Food Pantry's Prayers Against Federal Regulations, But Compromise Might Be On Horizon

Posted: 03/27/2012 2:48 pm Updated: 03/27/2012 3:36 pm

Food Pantry Regulations

An Indiana food pantry has been the focus of debate after its founder refused to stop asking patrons to pray.

Volunteers at the Community Provisions of Jackson County, a faith-based food pantry, ask guests requesting assistance whether there's anything they want to pray for, USA Today reports.

But after a 2011 inspection by Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, an organization that helps enforce compliance with federal guidelines, workers reported the pantry's prayer inquiry to officials, who said it violated regulations. Federal rules state food pantries cannot enforce religious practices or political views upon patrons seeking aid.

The organization revoked federal food assistance from Community Provisions after founder Paul Brock said he would not stop the practice because it was voluntary.

"We still give food to people, even when they say they don't want to pray," Brock told USA Today.

Brock estimated 98 percent of recipients agree to join volunteers in prayer, according to FOX News.

Carrie Fulbright, director of External Relations for Gleaners, said that the pantry was still able to receive food donations as long as they didn't come from USDA for Emergency Food Assistance Program, the Christian Post reports.

But Brock and other officials have begun questioning whether any federal regulations have been violated.

Todd Young, a Republican congressman serving Indiana's 9th District, said he believes the rules have been "misinterpreted," and has reached out to state officials regarding the issue, FOX News reports.

"We want to make sure that no one is being denied the public assistance that they need," Young's spokesperson, Trevor Foughty, told FOX.

According to the station, the U.S. Department of Agriculture states certain religious practices are tolerated as long as they don't determine whether or not a person receives assistance.

But now a compromise might be on the horizon, if Brock agrees to the conditions.

The settlement offered by the USDA would allow pantry volunteers to offer prayer after -- not before -- patrons have received their items, USA Today reports.

For the full story, head to USAToday.com.

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Filed by Ileana Llorens  |