Cheat Sheet Q&A - Part 2: Government assistance vs. direct charitable assistance
Bottom Line: While I lived and grew up in suburban Atlanta, my father worked downtown - near one of the most impoverished areas of the city. One day he went to the nearby McDonald's at the shift-change time between breakfast and lunch. He noticed that there was a bunch of pre-made food in the chutes that employees were taking and throwing out as they switched over. It upset him that food was being wasted, especially when there were many people in need right around the store. He asked if he could buy it and was denied because it had been sitting too long and they were switching over to lunch anyway. So he reached out to the store manager and asked if there might be a able to save the food to help hungry people in the community. The manager agreed to sell him the food at half price and my father took it to, what I believe was a shelter, nearby. This became something he'd regularly do (going into the McDonald's at the shift change and buying up whatever breakfast stuff they hand't sold to take to the shelter).
One day he went into the store and was told that he couldn't do it anymore. When he was pressed he was told that due to new regulations if they sold food that had been sitting longer than the health department deemed to be acceptable they'd be found in violation. So rather than the food going to hungry people in need it was thrown out. Fast forward several years...
My Dad was working for one of the largest discount retail companies - the last stop of his corporate career. He observed that when they had expiring food items they were thrown out. He set up a plan for expiring food to be donated to local shelters. That continued for awhile until one day a legal notice came to one of the stores. A shelter was pursuing a lawsuit against the company for providing them with food that was expired. No one was harmed by expired food (it was all canned goods that weren't more than a day old from what I recall) but the shelter saw a financial opportunity and the law/regulation allowed for it. Needless to say all of that food was no longer received by hungry people in need.
The biggest mistake many make is that somehow or another it's really the "government", whatever that happens to be, rather than people that make a difference. I've found that many who don't make the effort personally in their lives (for whatever the excuse happens to be), tend to like the idea that "government" is doing something about whatever they deem to be worthy (in their absence to do well). That mindset is the easy way out that ignores how incredibly wasteful the bureaucracy is and that often, as in the cases I cited above, actually the enemy of individuals and companies that are trying to do what they can to make a difference.
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