From denying need families their food stamps to giving rise to the recent salmonella outbreak, the Government shutdown has wreaked havoc across America. The White House vegetable garden, meant to be a symbol of self-sufficiency and the importance of healthy food, is just the latest victim.
“The vegetables filling the 1,500 square-foot plot are now rotting away on the vines and in the boxed beds…” reports Eddie Gehman Kohan, the creator of Obama Foodorama, a website that chronicles the administration’s food initiatives.
And why is the White House vegetable garden in such a state of disarray? Due to the Government shutdown, there’s only a skeleton crew of National Park Service gardeners left on duty at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., and their mandate of ‘minimal maintenance’ apparently doesn’t include harvesting edible food or pulling weeds.
According to Politico, ”a White House source told Obama Foodorama that under the shutdown gardeners are not allowed to harvest any of the crops. They are only allowed to water the garden and remove trash—restrictions that preclude raking, weeding, or clearing out dead leaves.”
In a time of shocking food waste and rampant hunger, such stipulations seem downright frivolous, but then, so does the entire Government shutdown.
This inability to harvest is a blow to the White House kitchen, which regularly features produce from the vegetable garden, but also to those in need around the Washington D.C. area. Each fall, around 500 pounds of the produce is donated to Miriam’s Kitchen, a non-profit serving the homeless.
Hopefully, the stalemate will be resolved soon, and the harvest—and donations—can continue as planned.
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Image: Samantha Appleton