Church's public potluck dinner shut down
New Woodstock (WSYR-TV) - Many viewers have contacted News Channel 9 about a potluck dinner organized by a church that was shut down by Madison County health officials on Saturday evening. 300 people showed up to the Open Door Baptist Church of New Woodstock for it's 28th annual Wild Game Dinner, but they were told they could not serve the food they brought to share. The Director of Environmental Health for Madison County, Geoffrey Snyder, explained why. In a local weekly newspaper, Snyder said a staff member of his saw the dinner was being promoted as a public event. Snyder went on to explain, if it's an event for the public, all food needs to come from an approved source. It can not come from people's homes because it can be a potential health hazard. In a letter to the church, Snyder cited a prior example when people's health and safety were compromised: "A similar wild game dinner held in Oneida County prompted a costly and resource intensive State Health Department and NYSDEC investigation following the determination that illegal wild game infected with Mad Cow Disease was served." The email was sent to the church's pastor the day before the dinner. Health officials also left a message in the church's main voice mailbox, but they did not get a response. Pastor David DeLeon said he plans to work with the county to make sure they are up to code before next year's dinner. DeLeon said the church has been advertising the public dinner in the local paper for at least three years and this is the first time they had been contacted by the county regarding the event. Snyder suggested that anyone holding a public event involving food contact their local health department as early as possible to make sure they're following the proper rules and getting the appropriate permits. The State Department of Health has more information here.
In a closed or private event the same regulations do not apply.
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