Couple's charity plan axed

By Lindy Laird

Selling homemade preserves to raise money for the local hospice has landed a Far North couple in a pickle with the local council.
Gloria and Ian Crawford, from Waipapa, have been told by Far North District Council environmental health inspectors they can no longer sell jams, preserves, sauces and Christmas cakes at the Mid-North Hospice's charity shop.
By cooking up a storm in the household kitchen for five years, and donating every cent they make, the Crawfords have raised about $15,000 a year for the hospice.
But food hygiene regulations specify anyone selling food must prepare it in a registered commercial kitchen, and someone from the public dobbed the Crawfords in.
An ambiguously worded conditional "baker's" licence designed by the council to allow people to sell home-cooked food at markets and for fundraising does not get the Crawfords out of the jam so they have rolled up their aprons. 
Shelley Kirton, manager of the Kerikeri based hospice, has slammed the "petty bureaucracy" that has pulled the plug on community generosity and an income flow.
"The sale of these items has contributed an invaluable amount to our finances, all of which supports our service and enables us to provide free palliative care," Ms Kirton said.
She expected a roll-on effect on other sales at the shop and a decrease in the number of customers coming in - "and also a possible loss of goodwill".
The Northern Advocate was unable to speak with the manager of North Haven Hospice in Whangarei about whether that facility had experienced similar constraints. 
Far North council communications manager Alison Lees said that although the council was obliged to enforce the food hygiene regulations, it was hoping the current "draconian" laws would soon be modified. 
The council was working with other groups on the New Zealand Food and Safety Authority voluntary improvement programme.

"We are and we will continue to lobby for legislative change so that charitable organisations and their volunteers can continue to do their good and valuable work."
 

- Northern Advocate

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