A woman was threatened with jail time for selling home-cooked food.
This case highlights the heavy-handedness of the government when it comes to minor matters.
Mariza Ruelas used the Facebook group ‘209 Food Spot’ to sell home-cooked food to members of her community when she was caught in a sting by an undercover government agent.
She said that selling food in the local community in Stockton, California was common practice and that she didn’t realize she was doing anything wrong.
“It’s just crazy because people have been selling out their trunks and out of parking lots for years,” and “I never knew it would be a problem.”
“A friend told Ruelas about the 15,000-member Facebook group, which she quickly grew to love. Ruelas said it became a network where amateur chefs in Merced, Stockton and the Modesto area could share recipes, organize potlucks and charity giveaways, trade goods or sell dishes for cheaper than market prices. Ruelas started running the Facebook group as an administrator after she said the creator of the page left the group about a year ago.”
“There were times when I didn’t have time to cook. You could go on there and pick something up or have it delivered on the same day,”
“It was just convenient for a lot of people. Everybody loves food. There was that connection with anyone.”
But on being tipped off about this situation, the law decided to wade in and sent undercover cops to do business with Ruelas . After getting the evidence they needed, she and 5 other members of the group were given summons to a court date where they were accused of violating health codes.
She said how they assumed a fine would be ordered, and was shocked to hear that the maximum sentence she could face was 2 years in prison.
In the end the punishments for the five included one year probation, a 235$ fine and 40 hours of community service.