It's encouraging to hear the number of people who've said my letter about waste and hypocrisy in school food programs stirred up a fire storm both positive and negative. At least we're talking!
Some written responses were predictable examples of why government programs rarely improve, after all, it's easier to twist someone's words, demonize, and say "how dare you!" than consider what's actually being said. Truly caring about children means being willing to search for a better way to meet needs, reduce fraud and waste so our resources go farther, and break the generational pattern of need for the future.
Space limitations kept me from previously offering suggestions. Here's a few to start more dialogue. 1) Stop forcing children to take food they will inevitably throw away 10 minutes later. Keep packaged leftovers for distribution to those who need it. 2) DON'T get used to wastefulness! A friend who worked in the school lunch program said she used to cry when she saw the daily waste but was told, "get used to it - that's just the way it is." DON'T! The great humanitarians in the world must cry along with my friend when they see our wastefulness. 3) Prepare and serve food for those requesting it. When overnight monitoring at the homeless shelter we call The Salvation Army in the morning to let them know how many guests want their free lunch so they only prepare what's needed. Let's follow their example. 4) Provide free financial counseling for families on free and reduced lunch programs. Our church meets many requests for financial help but when they make a second request they must also take financial counseling. Whole family futures are changing because of it. 5) Take inventory of your own family and their dependency on government. Try to change it.
Finally, many people assume wasteful, expanded government programs are the only way to meet needs and will go so far as to use scriptures to defend their position. But God's commands to care for the poor are first to us personally, and then to the church. He also has expectations for those who receive help. Jesus fed the poor and healed the sick but he put an even greater emphasis on changing their future. I would encourage people to study all of scripture, not just select verses.