Friday, March 23, 2012

Private Charities vs. Mayor Bloomberg

            I am a fan of private charities. I like the idea that people have a place to go to do things that matter to help those who need it. My teachers’ sorority, Alpha Delta Kappa, has made and served meals at our local Ronald McDonald house, donated shampoo and other needed items to a children’s shelter, provided school supplies to underprivileged students, volunteered time at a nursing home, and collected donations and walked in the annual Heart Walk for the American Heart Association. We are passionate about helping those in need, and private charities that provide important services need our help.

            That said, New York City has just banned the donation of food items to homeless shelters. All homeless shelters, public and private. This means that homeless shelters can no longer accept food donations from restaurants, grocery stores, and altruistic organizations. Food that is needed by the homeless will now be thrown away instead of donated.

            Of course there’s an excellent reason for this government interference with private charities. Apparently, the homeless in NYC are fat. Mayor Bloomberg wants to make sure that the homeless are eating nutritionally balanced meals, low in fat and sodium and high in fiber and nutrients. The only way the city can be sure that the homeless are eating properly is for shelters to serve only those food items with detailed labels. Menus can then be planned. This is very similar to how public school cafeterias are run.

If NYC wants to operate its taxpayer-paid homeless shelters this way, that’s fine with me. The public shelters will be more expensive to operate, but I’m sure the taxpayers of NYC don’t mind the additional expense since they elected Mayor Bloomberg, and I don’t live there anyway. However, what about the private charities that run shelters? The shelters operated by religious and secular organizations are necessary, since there are not enough public shelters available for all of the homeless in NYC. Does Mayor Bloomberg really think that hindering these private charities is beneficial to the homeless? If these charities close down because they can’t accept donated food, where does that leave the homeless? Homeless AND hungry.

            I wonder when the government is going to start telling the rest of us what we can and cannot eat. I would suspect it’s only as far away as the implementation of Obama-care. Since the diet is part of overall health, it will, by default, become the government’s concern. Think the government has taken away too many individual rights already? Just wait.