General Convention Meal Plan Canceled After Complaints About Cost, Packaging Waste – Episcopal News Service


The Episcopal Church is scheduled to meet June 8-11 at the Baltimore, Maryland, Convention Center for the 80th General Convention. Photo: Baltimore Conference Center

[Episcopal News Service] The General Convention Meal Plan – a revised plan involving boxed meals for the scaled-down July 8-11 convention in Baltimore, Maryland – was canceled after criticism from deputies over cost and other factors. All attendees will now be free to make their own meal choices at local restaurants.

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, and Presiding Bishop Michael Curry made the announcement to their respective Houses of Representatives and Bishops on June 15.

“I heard from many of you that the meal plan would be overpriced, involve too much food waste and packaging, and would not meet your dietary needs,” Jennings wrote to Deputies and Subs. “Today the Presiding Bishop and I have decided not to go ahead with the breakfast and packed lunch plan for General Convention.”

The plan that the General Presidents’ Convention Design Group presented at its June 8 meeting, approved by Jennings and Curry, consisted of individual hotel breakfasts and packed lunches for all official deputations. The plan would have cost $260 for four days of breakfast and lunch, or $32.50 per meal, and was required for all bishops and deputies, being billed directly to their dioceses. The participants would then be alone for dinner.

Curry and Jennings had said the boxed meal plan would “minimize the risk of indoor dining and the potential spread of COVID-19 by attendees to the Baltimore community” and “mitigate the financial impact of the schedule. shortcut on hotel workers”.

“We are deeply saddened by the impact the absence of visitors will have on the service industry in Baltimore,” said Bishop of Maryland Eugene Taylor Sutton, whose diocese is headquartered in the host city. “Our goal is to encourage support for our workers while minimizing their exposure to the potential physical and financial burden of illness.”

The meal plan was criticized by MPs, bishops and other Episcopalians on social media immediately after it was announced on June 10 – mostly directed at the unusually high price of boxed meals and mostly in jest. Still, many have expressed frustration that dioceses are being forced to pay for such an expensive plan when finances are tight.

On the day the meal plan was announced, a General Convention lunchbox apparently reached sensibility and began tweeting about its unappetising contents and high price tag, taunting MPs with the fact that they didn’t had no other choice.

“I appreciate the candid – and sometimes quite humorous – comments you have provided,” Jennings wrote in his letter to MPs.

Less than an hour after the announcement of the plan’s cancellation, celebrations spilled over into the Episcopal community on Twitter.

That is, for all but the packed lunch itself, which announced its own demise and changed its cover photo to a tombstone.

To achieve the stated goal of mitigating the impact on Baltimore’s hotel and restaurant workers, Jennings said a benevolent fund is being established to help workers and deputies, with more details to come. In the meantime, she wrote, “I hope you will join me in making a contribution to the Baltimore Restaurant Relief Fund, an industry effort to support restaurant workers and owners; or the UNITE HERE Education and Support Fund, a project of the UNITE HERE Local 7 union that represents hospitality, gaming and restaurant workers throughout Maryland.

“Thank you for your indulgence as we continue to finalize the details of this most unusual general convention,” Curry wrote in his letter to the bishops. “We are grateful to those planning behind the scenes for their willingness to try new options, change course based on feedback, and continue to work cheerfully as our time in Baltimore draws closer. May God grant us all patience and good humor in the weeks to come. »

– Egan Millard is associate editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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