Food stamp and welfare fraud are dominating the headlines lately. As Congress debates to reform, cut, or increase the federal social programs, maybe they should talk to a little old lady from Kansas. Donna Pinaire is the director of a church-based food pantry called Bread For Life, which feeds the hungry of Wichita. This compassionate woman has been helping the poor for 23 years and thinks the government has got it all wrong.
Guided by her conservative views, Pinaire believes that, “government should never have gotten into the welfare business.” Her reasoning being, “that we should spend more on social programs is cruel when it creates dependency, generational poverty and a sense of entitlement.”
“Liberals get it wrong when they say the poor need more tax dollars,” Pinaire said. “Money without love and money without real help – it just creates dependency.”
Pinaire is hardly a cold-hearted bottom-line Republican that thinks all poor people are lazy moochers. Her position of feeding the hungry has given her a unique perspective into what works and what doesn’t. She thinks that the communities they live in, not the government best help people who have fallen on hard times.
She believes that the poor need more than just a handout; they need encouragement and compassion to help pull them out of their troubles.
“Their souls have been crushed by failure, day after day. They need someone to tell them that they are human beings, that they are worth something. They need someone to tell them that God loves them, to tell them that they can better themselves. We do that for them,” she said, adding, “Money without hope is not the answer.”
The 150-member Living Word Outreach Church, which operates the Bread For Life food pantry, gave 900,000 pounds of food to Wichita’s poor last year. The volunteers who largely work entry-level jobs give thousands of dollars of their own money to keep pantry running. They never take a dime from the government and they don’t force their Christian beliefs on anyone. They give you food if you need it and prayer if you want it.
Bread For Life is not just another crutch for the poor to lean on. They provide job counseling and limit how long people can receive aid. It is a stepping-stone that helps people get their lives back together.
The government is just so bad at helping people. They throw money at a problem, never once considering whether it does any good or not. Their programs are so defrauded that it creates resentment between working people and the poor. I would like to see these programs phased out and replaced by private non-profit groups. Locals helping locals makes much more sense.
I think most people are compassionate enough to help out their neighbors in times of trouble. I also feel like people are less likely to steal from their community than they would be from the federal government. Best of all, breaking the dependency on government support means more able-bodied Americans will have to pull themselves up and become productive members of society.
It is not naïve to suggest that the private sector can succeed in helping the poor where the government has failed so miserably. Donna Pinare is a smart lady. She and her volunteers prove that locals can make a difference in their community.