UPDATE Aug. 21, 2012: Donations of food, money and legal services have been pouring in to help Angela Prattis maintain her free-lunch program, NBC reports. “From what I hear, and I can’t say that I have seen any of it, people have been donating to the churches that support the lunch program,” Prattis told the news outlet. “I am grateful.
Every day during the summer, Angela Prattis’ driveway turns into a dining room for 60 children desperate for a meal. But if the Philadelphia woman can’t come up with $1,000 for a permit, these hungry kids may have nowhere to turn.
The 41-year-old mother of three’s food program is funded by the state department of education and is administered by the archdiocese of Philadelphia, which drops off the lunches, NBC 10 reports. While Prattis thought she had followed the proper protocol, the Chester Township recently informed her that because she’s operating out of a residential area, she has to apply for a variance, which costs $1,000 for the zoning hearing. Officials also said they would fine her $600 a day until she stopped distributing free food, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“Nobody's against the program,” Township Manager William Piserik, told the news outlet, “but folks don't want the program set up in the lady's front driveway."
After heeding to media pressure, the township withdrew the fines, but it’s still insisting that Prattis cough up the funds for the variance, a steep expense she can’t afford, and believes shouldn’t apply to her. The do-gooder told delcotimes.com that she believes she should be exempt from such zoning laws because she isn’t cooking or selling food.
“We’re talking about children,” Prattis told NBC 10. “Children. “It’s unbelievable. They’ve never once said anything to me in reference to what to do to be in the right standing with the township.”
Gratis meal programs like Prattis’ are critical during the summer months when 21 million children are at risk for hunger once they lose out on their free breakfast and lunch at school.
However, Prattis refuses to give up on her mission. She plans on attending the next Chester Township Council meeting and she will continue serving the kids that need her services, NBC 10 reports.
“I’m not stopping,” she told delcotimes.com. “These kids are hungry. I’m not tearing down the community. I’m keeping the children out of harm’s way.”
What do you think of this fine Prattis faces? Let us know in the comments below.
If Prattis' program inspires you, support her work through the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which funds her initiative.
Then, check out the latest "Kids Count" report, which recently ranked overall child well-being in the slideshow below.