Every day, especially during the holiday season, we are buried in news reports about low-income Americans who don’t have enough to eat. There are food drives, community food banks, charity events, and fundraisers galore collecting food and money for food, all based on the premise that the poor just aren’t getting fed.
Contributors to these food charities get a temporary, warm fuzzy feeling. But the whole “starving children” thing is a big sham, and food charity does little or nothing to actually help the poor improve their lives.
Our citizens, through government welfare programs, provide generous food subsidies for the poor. As I reported recently, the SNAP program grants up to $632 per month on EBT debit cards for a qualifying family of four. There are deductions based on income, but cash from most welfare programs is excluded. The monthly SNAP dollar allowance is considerably greater than most non-welfare families spend on food, resulting in high incidence of obesity among SNAP participants. In addition, 68% of students get one or two free or heavily-subsidized meals at school every day.
I’m not saying it’s fun to be on welfare, or that we should abolish all food subsidies. I am saying that lack of food is NOT the main problem for the poor, and providing more food via charities is NOT helping them. The few scarce hungry Americans are victims of neglect, abuse, and mental illness – problems that must be addressed, but in a completely different way.
So why are we so obsessed with providing EVEN MORE FREE FOOD for the poor? Wouldn’t it make more sense to direct this huge pool of charity funds to something that actually does some good?
We could provide economic education, job skills and actual employment opportunities so poor families might escape the sad trap of welfare dependency. We could monitor and counsel poor adults and children, helping develop good decision-making, parenting, and life skills. We could actually get involved at the personal level, helping with individual needs – a car repair so one can get to work; a plane ticket so another can help an ailing relative; a home-cooked meal for a senior who can get food but can’t cook.
This sounds like charity as it once was in this country. Charity that was most often organized by churches. Charity given in the form of time, personal involvement, and caring, in addition to money. Sadly, today’s secular liberal culture discourages faith. Forced charity funded through taxation and administered through soul-less government computers has dried up the river of personal, church-sponsored work that used to actually help people. Now, the extent of our caring for others is reduced to buying them more and more food, making them even fatter, while leaving them dependent on the government and making the same bad choices as their parents and grandparents did. We don’t want to get involved, so let’s throw them another can of food. We can wear ribbons, join a publicized walk to promote “awareness”, and then leave our neighbors behind.
The poor don’t need more food. Frankly, they don’t need that carload of junk from WalMart that many have come to expect from charities every Christmas. They need jobs, and they need guidance from good people – caring and constructive shepherds who can show them the way to a better life.
Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side
Who can I believe in? I’m kneeling on the floor.
There has to be a force, who do I phone?
The stars are out and shining,
But all I really want to know –
Oh, won’t you show me the way?
I want you to show me the way.