When the Government Steps Out, the Community Should Step Up

When President Trump released his proposed budget blueprint earlier this week, it was revealed that Meals on Wheels, a long running program that delivers meals to the elderly, and shut-ins in communities around the country, would be sliced from the federal budget.

On Thursday, Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said:

“We can’t spend money on programs just because they sound good,” said Mulvaney. “Meals on Wheels sounds great … but to take the federal money and give it to the states and say, look, we want to give you money for programs that don’t work — I can’t defend that anymore.”

But has the Meals on Wheels program been working?

Meals on Wheels, which provides food to individuals who are unable to leave their homes, says it served more than 219 million meals to 2 million seniors last year.

That’s a lot.

In 2013, CNN Money reported that federal funding for Meals on Wheels and related services accounted for 0.02% of the federal budget.

The Meals on Wheels organization say they receive around 35% of their funding from the federal government, as administered by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Understandably, there is fallout related to the budget announcement.

The virtue signaling has begun.

So have the donations.

“We received 50 times the normal amount of donations yesterday,” Jenny Bertolette, vice president of communications at Meals on Wheels, told Yahoo News Friday. “Local programs fundraise individually and we can assume that there was likely a groundswell of local support, as well.”

Bertolette said the group also “saw an almost 500 percent jump in volunteer sign-ups through our AmericaLetsDoLunch.org Ad Council website.”

This may be the greatest unintended consequence of the entire debacle.

While I’m sure there are many who are pulling out their debit cards or check books, all while grumbling in disbelief that we now have a U.S. president who seems oblivious to the needs of our elderly and infirm, they have been inspired to care for the least of these.

Back in the early days of our nation’s existence, families and communities cared for their own. The church also played a role in picking up the slack, in terms of feeding and clothing those in need.
Neighbors knew each other, because they checked up on each other.

With Lyndon B. Johnson’s “Great Society” program from 1964, however, government became both king and daddy, placing the onus of care into the hands of a bulky, disconnected federal overlord.

Those federal programs, meant to be Johnson’s “war on poverty” have rarely been proven to lift anyone out of poverty, and have, in fact, encouraged a sedentary attitude towards self-help, growing, rather than defeating poverty.

Charity and the care of others is always best handled when you make it personal.

Proverbs 14:31 (NIV) says: “Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.”

Likewise, Matthew 25:40 (NASB) says: “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’”

We’re instructed to care for others and to help those who can’t help themselves.

It’s a big mistake liberals are making with this budget announcement, as many of them suddenly discover their surprising new respect for the teaching of Jesus Christ.

Sure, they’ll ignore everything else the Bible teaches, but in this instance, they’ve got religion.

But they ignore the obvious: Things like grace, charity, humility, and aid to the poor and elderly are to be personal, not government compelled.

We have an opportunity to grow compassionate, involved communities, again. Where Big Government has failed our society, we shouldn’t be so quick to see the end of federal money as a crisis, but rather, a challenge to be better neighbors.

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Susan Wright

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