Minnesota churches and other civic organizations have Goodhue County churches to thank for being able to continue their fund-raising meals.
Cathy Thiel and Pat Irruthum of Wanamingo jumped into action more than a year ago when a state Health Department inspector told St. Paulâ€™s Catholic Church in Zumbrota it no longer could hold the traditional church meals offered to the public.
â€œI felt strongly that church dinners should continue,â€ Thiel said Monday after Gov. Mark Dayton signed into law a provision allowing church, sportsmen, fraternal and patriotic organizations to continue their fund-raising food sales.
Dayton signed the bill as Thiel, Irruthum and others from southeast Minnesotaâ€™s Goodhue County looked on.
â€œThe system really works,â€ Thiel said.
Wanamingo Mayor Ron Berg, also watching the bill signing, said a church fund-raiser may pay heating bills for a winter.
Organizations such as the Lions Club also will benefit from the new law, the mayor said.
Twenty to 25 such groups use the Wanamingo community room each year for food-related fundraisers, City Administrator Michael Boulton said.
The dust-up over food came about after Goodhue County dropped its enforcement of state health laws and a state inspector decided to get tough on church dinners, Boulton said. That spurred the church ladies into action, getting more than 400 signatures seeking a change.
The Goodhue County women went to Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, and Sen. John Howe, R-Red Wing, for help. Their bill passed in the legislative session that ended two weeks ago.
The law requires a representative of any organization that sells food to be trained in food safety. That is fine with Thiel because it allows St. Paulâ€™s and other groups to continue to make money.
â€œChurch dinners have been a part of our lives for generations,â€ Thiel said. â€œChurch dinners will be as safe as they ever were.â€