There is NO WAY Charitable Giving will ever be able to replace the Federal Government in the ability to meed the level of need we have. I'm sick to my liver of hearing from conservatives that charity should or even CAN replace the US Government as a way to meet need.
My tiny boy, the little one, goes to preschool now. And as usual I was dropping him off a few minutes late. He races me to the door. On the race to the door, I saw boys carrying box after box of canned goods into a van. The school had done a food drive. School wide.
A school-wide food drive. It went on for a couple of weeks in preparation to fill food pantries for Thanksgiving. And as I watched the boys fill that Econoline Van, I peeked around the corner to see the amount of food they had stacked up, as an older man took the cans from the boys and arranged them neatly into the van.
My first thought was "Wow, that's a lot of food"
Then my mind did some rough calculation -- Yes I keep these things in my mind, sue me :
Can of corn: about 300 calories
Can of carrots: about 200 calories
Can of beans: 450 calories
Pound of spaghetti: 1600 calories
Times the a random adult food consumption of 2000 calories per day times 365 for 730,000 calories in a year for a 160 pound sedentary male.
The van, at best, contained enough food to feed a 160 pound person for MAYBE half a year. My best guess. How do I know? Because I have spent a couple years stockpiling food and I've kept track of the number of calories in our basement food stockpile. And I can tell you that unless there was a lot of hidden rice and pasta somewhere, that van, while looking full, would have fueled an adult for six months. Maybe.
A two week long elementary-school wide food drive produced just about enough food to feed 1 adult for 6 months. Or to be generous, enough to feed one 8 year old for a year. Or twelve 8 year olds for a month. Or fifty-two 8 year olds for One Week.
Or perhaps three-hundred-sixty-five 8 year olds for a day.
Though it took two weeks and hundreds of contributing families in order to get there.
I'm not entirely sure what my point is here.
It certainly isn't to discourage people from contributing to their local food pantries, or to stop giving to food drives.
But the amount we give...the amount we CAN give...is in fact a drop in the bucket of need. Charitable giving CANNOT and WILL NOT ever be able to fulfill the role of the US Government. EVER. EVER. EVER EVER EVER. It can't.
Let's break this down.
1 in 4 people in Muskegon County are on food assistance...so we're looking at about 43,000 people on food assistance.
I realize that the folk going to food banks are often times folks NOT on food assistance, or people who ARE on food assistance but who can't get by on that. But let's work with the 43,000 number for the sake of convenience. And let's assume at least half of those folks are children. So we'll use a rough average of 1600 calories per person per day.
We're looking at a food need of: 68,800,000 calories PER DAY.
in Muskegon, alone. About 69 MILLION calories per day. Per DAY.
Conveniently, we can break that down into spaghetti, which is 1600 per pound. So to try to match what the US Government is helping with with SNAP benefits Muskegon County alone we'd need to be donating 43,000 pounds of spaghetti Every Single Day. Assuming people can survive on spaghetti alone, which they can't.
Or about 230,000 cans of corn EVERY SINGLE DAY.
There are about 170,000 people in Muskegon County, let's pretend the other 3/4 who aren't on food assistance are supplying the food. That's 127,000 people. Or let's say about 3.5 per household for about 36,000 households, which is actually an acruate depiction of the households in Muskegon County.
That means EACH HOUSEHOLD would need to donate at LEAST 1.2 pounds of spaghetti, or 6 cans of vegetables EVERY SINGLE DAY.
This is the reality if the US Government stopped helping with food assistance and we relied on charitable donations to meet the FOOD need.
There's simply no way charitable giving would meet the need of even food.
Ask yourself, have you really donated $125 of food every single month?
COULD you donate $125 of food every single month?
And these numbers are going to get WORSE when you move to counties with even MORE need per capita.
There is NO WAY Charitable Giving will ever be able to replace the Federal Government in the ability to meed the level of need we have.