Tuesday, March 6, 2012

There's No Such Thing as a Free Lunch: When Big Government is Good

The old saying goes, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

It might be free for you, but someone, somewhere has to pay for it. An example is a program funded by the United States Department of Agriculture that provides free meals to children during the summer. It is only free to those eating the meals. Someone has to pay for it, namely, taxpayers.

My husband and I paid 15% of our income last year to the Feds. I’m often annoyed with how my tax dollars are spent. As a pacifist, it makes me sick to think I’m partially financing those drone attacks that kill civilians across the planet. But every now and then, our federal government gets it right.

I was very pleased to find in our mailbox the current issue of our school district’s newsletter informing us of the upcoming “Summer Lunch Bunch” program. The United States Department of Agriculture will provide a hot meal served at four local elementary schools in the district, Monday through Friday, throughout the summer. The program is free for all children ages 1-18.

Thank you, USDA. Hooray for big government! I proudly support this program with my federal tax dollars.

If you’d like to get involved, it’s not just public schools that are hosting this federal program. Here are tips for how your church or non-profit organization could become a feeding site as well.

“Become a Sponsor: Being a sponsor requires the highest level of commitment. Sponsoring means acting as the organizer for the Summer Food Service Program sites. Public or private non-profit schools, local, municipal, county, tribal or state government, private non-profits, public or private non-profit camps, and private or non-profit universities or colleges are examples of local organizations that often serve as Summer Food Service Program sponsors. Sponsors must be able to provide a capable staff, managerial skills, and food service capabilities. A sponsor may provide its own meals, purchase meals through an agreement with an area school, or contract for meals with a food vendor. Be sure to register your summer feeding sites for the National Hunger Hotline.”

“Open a Feeding Site: The Summer Food Service Program reaches only a fraction of the children in need. The primary reason for the limited access to the program is that there are not enough feeding sites. Your community building or place of faith could become a feeding site. Sites are the physical locations were food is served. Each site location must work with a Summer Food Service Program sponsor that is financially and administratively responsible for the meal service at the site. You can also help by coordinating site participation with other youth activity programs in your area. Be sure to register your summer feeding sites with the National Hunger Hotline.”

“Volunteer: While feeding children is the top priority of the Summer Food Service Program, programming is what keeps children coming back. This takes volunteers – and LOTS of them – especially in June, July and August. Volunteers can help with basics like transporting food, setting up or cleaning up a site—they also plan and do educational or recreational activities with the children. We encourage Summer Food Service Program sponsors and sites to register their volunteer opportunities. This website allows volunteer opportunities to be posted, as well as allows volunteers to search for opportunities. Click here to post or search for opportunities today!”

“Share: Tell others how the Summer Food Service Program helps feed hungry children and discuss how they or their organization can help. The more people know about the issues, the more likely they are to take action to help end hunger or know how to help their own children.”