Government Decides When to Feed the Needy and Not So Needy

July 9, 2014 11:38AM

It seems that nowadays feeding the hungry is becoming more of a monopolized enterprise for the state than an opportunity for great works of charity, thanks to unnecessary government regulations. Believe it or not, there are currently 33 cities in the United States with anti-feeding ordinances that prohibit private charities from publicly feeding the homeless without a city permit. Recently in Daytona Beach, Florida, a couple was fined over $2,000 for violating their city’s anti-feeding ordinance. Although the fines were eventually dropped, the city’s response to the scenario was egregious. According to a report from NBC News, Daytona Beach leaders argued “the couple’s work worsens homelessness by coaxing impoverished people from centralized, city-run programs…” This hostility becomes even more startling when coupled with the recent news that some school districts plan to provide free school lunches to all students, regardless of income. According to a recent article by the Chattanooga Times Free Press, “Come August, students at two-thirds of Hamilton County’s Schools will be offered free breakfast and lunch daily.” Hamilton County is not the only school district in Tennessee taking advantage of the federally funded program. Back in June, Metro Nashville schools decided to also implement a similar program. The free lunch program is well intentioned, but there is no such thing as a free meal when using the taxpayer money. However, there is such a thing when non-profits and charities are providing the meals from their own donors’ generous resources. So why are some local governments dis-incentivizing such acts? The government has far overextended its role by having a strong hand—in some cases, the only hand—in deciding who is allowed to feed the needy. These arbitrary decisions also abuse both taxpayers and those most impoverished by funneling tax dollars to feed those who may not even be in need.  Based on the recent actions by a number of Tennessee cities and many states, it seems that government has dictated that feeding the needy—or even those not in need—is at the discretion of their imprudence. And like many other bureaucratic programs, their stranglehold will cripple the role of private and charitable institutions that are actually doing notable work. -Kate Farrar Enjoy the Beacon blog? Help us keep it going with a tax-deductible gift.