By Karen Brainard
When a county health official arrived at the Light of the Lamb ministry last Thursday to stop its free food distribution program, Christie Baker turned to San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob and was impressed with the immediate positive results.
“Dianne Jacob jumped forward to make sure hungry people in this town will be fed,” said Christie’s husband, Mark Baker, pastor of Light of the Lamb at 318 Seventh St.
The ministry has been distributing food at no charge for over 3 years, the Bakers said. The food is supplied by Jacob’s and Cushman San Diego Food Bank.
According to Mark Baker, an official from the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health Food and Housing Division accused him of distributing food to the public through his automotive business and was ready to fine him and give a citation.
Baker said he informed the county employee that the program is through the church and he has done the necessary paperwork, but said he was harrassed.
Christie Baker said she fired off an e-mail detailing the incident to Jacob, and the next morning a county health department staff member called and apologized. The Bakers credit Jacob.
“She’s always been so supportive of everything we try to do,” Mark Baker said of Jacob. “I have so much respect for her.”
“As soon as Mrs. Baker brought this situation to my attention, I immediately asked the Department of Environmental Health to investigate the county’s visit to the church,” Jacob said in a statement to the Sentinel. “To the department’s credit, the department quickly concluded that under no uncertain terms does the church need a permit. The church coordinates food distribution with the San Diego Food Bank and is exempt from the California Retail Food Code. As I understand it, the visit from the inspector was prompted by an anonymous complaint to the county. I can’t address the details of the inspection because I wasn’t there and didn’t see or hear the exchange. I can tell you that the church’s good works will continue uninterrupted. It’s unfortunate that Mr. and Mrs. Baker had a negative and unpleasant experience with the County. It’s been my goal and the county’s goal to make government work for people, and I’m pleased that the matter has been resolved.”
The Light of the Lamb distributes food on Friday mornings from about 10:15 to noon at its Seventh Street location. Mark Baker said 80 people sign up each week, each representing three to five persons at home. He estimated they provide food to 300 to 400 people a week.