December event cancellation and an important update
Over the last 9 months, the widespread interest in and awareness of the MPLS Swappers have allowed our food swaps to grow and our community to strengthen. Everyone involved has had the opportunity to feel empowered, excited, and passionate about producing high-quality and delicious food and sharing it with others.
Apparently, awareness of our event has even filtered up to the regulatory bodies of state government. Last week, organizers Mandy, A-K, and I were contacted by the
Minnesota Minneapolis Department of Health. The Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health both have concerns over the format of our swap, the types of food being exchanged, and the unregulated nature of the event. The Department of Health informed us that they believe that under the current statue, the one-for-one exchange of homemade goods constitutes a sale, and therefore, the type of foods we are “selling” and the absence of regulation and licensing with which we are doing so is not legally permitted.
We are working to confirm this and clear up some of the grey areas in the law. Because there is a chance that our swap format does not comply with state law, and being pressed on time to find an appropriate solution, we have chosen to cancel the December 11, 2011 food swap and postpone creating events for 2012.
This is deeply disappointing and unexpected, and we apologize to everyone that has registered and started planning or cooking for next week’s event.
We are currently working with our contact at the Department of Health and other legal sources to obtain as much information as possible about current laws and regulations so we are fully informed, and get the specifics in regards to which statues they feel are in violation. We plan to explore new formats for our food swaps that will allow us to exchange our lovingly prepared food items, grow our community, and maintain a strong grassroots spirit, all while keep us safe from further investigation.
Additionally, we want to express our gratitude to Open Arms of Minnesota, our gracious and generous host for our recent swaps. Open Arms has been incredibly supportive of our events and we deeply appreciate the space, materials, and friendship they have offered to us over the months. We sincerely hope that they have not experienced any negative consequences from their association with us during this investigation by the State. No matter what form our food swap takes in the future, we hope that our organizations can maintain a positive and mutually beneficial relationship.
All things willing, we will hold a food swap in January, and will share information as it is available. As we embark on this new path we will let you know when and how we will need your help. Thank you for supporting the MPLS Swappers from our humble beginnings to the lively, thriving community it is today and will continue to be in the future.
Yours in the fight!
A-K Thordin, Kim Christensen, and Mandy Ellerton
Organizers of the MPLS Swappers