There is no question that the Just Food pantry has done a good job of providing food to local individuals and families, who, due to various circumstances, have been unable to buy sufficient food to meet their needs.
Those qualifying for the food must have an annual income below $20,147 for individuals, $27,214 for a two-person household and $41,348 for a four-person household.
The Just Food pantry was established in October 2009, with a $250,000 grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Now, Just Food spokespeople say they need to raise $75,000 by April 1 to stay in business.
Again, the pantry is meeting a serious need, but this is just one more case where federal money is provided for good programs — “stimulus” funds to hire more police officers, pay teachers, augment budgets and support other programs, including the pantry. But what happens when the grant money is gone?
It’s so easy to accept federal grants and handouts, but how many recipients stop to think how they will maintain or sustain the funded programs when the grant money runs out?
Just Food, with the help of Harvesters Community Food Network in Kansas City, has been a lifeline for many local individuals and families, but, with the federal subsidy coming to an end, will the pantry be able to fund the program with local dollars? Are there other food pantry programs in Lawrence that have figured out ways to keep their operations going with donations of food and money from local residents?
Just Food offers a perfect example of the government starting and funding a program, but when the money is exhausted and those operating or in charge of those programs cannot sustain the venture, private residents or other entities are supposed to pick up the bills or let the program die. If it does, indeed, die and people lose their jobs or services are discontinued, then it’s the private community that is blamed.
The United States is not yet a welfare state, but it is heading in that direction. Until it becomes a reality, recipients of federal handouts, as attractive as they may appear, should give far more attention to how they can sustain the programs when Uncle Sam is no longer picking up the tab.