To the Editor:

I am writing in response to the letter by Jay Lewin in the April 26 edition of The Spectrum.

He urges Loaves & Fishes, the food pantry/soup kitchen which serves free warm meals and bag lunches to the poor and homeless, should be moved from its present location next to First Congregational Church in New Milford six miles down Route 7 to Faith Church.

In his letter, Mr. Lewin argues or hints most (if not all) of the guests at Loaves & Fishes are alcoholic or drug-addicted criminals who migrate or are shipped to this town principally in order to urinate or defecate in public or to deface public property, and to frighten (or worse) the good citizens and shopkeepers of New Milford.

He proposes they should be forced to go six miles down the road (Route 7) to the border with Brookfield to find a warm meal or a bag lunch.

Mr. Lewin does not go nearly far enough, however.

Why should we dump these alcoholic, drug-addicted criminals upon the parishioners at Faith Church or the good people of Brookfield?

Mr. Lewin objects to other towns dumping their poor or homeless upon New Milford. It would be much cheaper to provide them all one-way tickets to Omaha, where they can be out of sight and out of mind.

Indeed, why stop there? Perhaps funds can be raised to provide them airfare to Yemen. One way, of course.

This is absurd. As is Mr. Lewin's argument.

If a guest at Loaves & Fishes is drunk and disorderly, or defaces public property, he/she should be arrested and prosecuted no less, but no more, than someone exiting one of the local watering holes or a misbehaving student.

If a guest at Loaves & Fishes menaces any of the good citizens of New Milford, he/she should be treated no differently than anyone else who does so.

After all, we do not have two sets of laws in this country -- one for wealthy property owners and one for the poor and homeless.

On the other hand, those in our community who are genuinely unemployed or under-employed or on fixed incomes (and there are more than you might think), many of whom lack cars or money for gas should not be forced to walk 12 miles round-trip, along heavily-trafficked Route 7, in order to find a warm meal or a bag lunch.

The people described in Mr. Lewin's letter are our neighbors, both in the literal and figurative sense. They deserve better.

The people who run and volunteer at Loaves & Fishes deserve our full-throated support, not scurrilous attacks on their guests.

If you truly want to help the poor and homeless in our community, then volunteer at and/or donate food and money to Loaves & Fishes.

They are open seven days a week, 365 days a year and will always be grateful to see you.

You can also donate new or slightly used men's, women's and children's clothing to Tall Paul's Closet at St. John's Episcopal Church in New Milford, at which the poor and homeless in our community can find free clothing.

Curiously, Mr. Lewin does not suggest moving that facility to Faith Church.

On the other hand, if you want to pretend this is someone else's problem, then, by all means, ship them down the road or, better yet, to Yemen.

Neil Silberblatt

New Milford