A woman in Chester Township, Pennsylvania has been warned that she could be fined as much as $600 a day if she continues to feed needy children in her community.
Angela Prattis has been feeding lunch to as many as 60 children a day under a program funded by the state’s Department of Education and administered by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. But because Prattis allowing the children to come to her home, Chester Township has threatened fines of $600 a day if she continues to hand out the lunches, which consist of a sandwich, fruit and milk.
Prattis told KPLC that the town sent her a letter stating she needed a variance to use her personal residence.
“It’s a letter stating, ‘shut it down or face a $600 fine,’” she explained.
“We’re talking about children,” Prattis added. “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.”
Chester Township business manager Bill Pisarek said that Prattis could apply for a variance, but the application alone costs $1,000.
“We’re not here to go after her, to hurt her, to take money from her or to prevent her from feeding kids that need the food,” Pisarek insisted.
Since the story was first reported earlier this week, offers from residents wanting to help have poured in, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Over $3,000 has been pledged so far. A Facebook group and online Indiegogo campaign hope to raise even more. The Center City law firm Dilworth Paxson L.L.P. has also offered to represent Prattis free of charge.
Acting solicitor Murray Eckell told the Inquirer that the negative publicity Chester Township has received was unfair.
“Suppose a child gets hurt on her property,” Eckell remarked. “Will the family sue the township? What if somebody gets food poisoning?”
“What she is doing is commendable. The township isn’t against children getting free food. But if we don’t have laws, there’s chaos. It’s a difficult situation for the township to be in.”