Helping is a patriotic duty, not a burden

I read with dismay Jane Jech’s recent letter to the editor regarding waste and hypocrisy in school food programs.

I completely agree with Jech that we should ensure our tax dollars are being spent wisely and good food is not being thrown away. Unfortunately, she follows this reasonable request with the same vitriol that a majority of voters have rejected in the past.

Jech suggests that students “are conditioned to think government-provided food is the norm.” My government-funded lunches in the 90s didn’t turn me into a Pavlovian dog that drools every time I see a government agency acronym. They provided me with a square meal that helped me focus at school, which I have repaid in taxes. This is like countless other success stories of our public assistance system that never seemed to get mentioned by folks of a certain political persuasion. Parenthetically, what these children may learn is that helping each other is a patriotic duty, not a burden.

Jech also suggests that a “child coming to school hungry may have more to do with a parent’s ‘interest-level’ than ‘income-level.'”

That may be true. So what? If a child has a parent who makes bad decisions, that child apparently doesn’t get to eat? Children really are punished for the sins of their fathers?

There are many flaws in our government assistance programs and we should work to root those flaws out. But we must always be careful our desire to make sure someone doesn’t get something “they don’t deserve” doesn’t override our responsibility to each other as human beings.

I ask each of you to consider this: Which is the greater crime: That a child gets a hot meal while his/her parents spend money on a pack of smokes? Or that in the most powerful nation on Earth, we’ll let an innocent kid go hungry because their parents make bad decisions?

I also ask you to look up the meaning of the word hypocrisy after you read this quote:

Jesus said: “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”