EDITORíS DESK: When there is such a thing as a free lunch

       Someone I know who's involved with charity admits to a philosophical quandary. On the one hand, he sees people in need and wants to help them. On the other hand, he realizes that the more help some people get, the more dependent they become. A local case in point is District 11's summer meals program. It has the saintly intent of ensuring that needy children aren't short-changed on nutrition and even, based on "food insecurity" calculations, that they avoid starvation.
       This is America we're talking about, right? The Westside? When was the first or last time anybody ever died of starvation over here? Outside of people in drunken stupors, I mean. I've been wondering about this for a while now. Food stamps are available to those in financial difficulty, and administrators of that program have explained that the designated amounts should be more than enough to cover a household's food needs. But there are always cracks to slip through, and for that we have Care & Share, tirelessly seeking food donations for pantries all over town. There are also various soup kitchens and hot meals, etc.
       Not to be left out, District 11 has its Free-and-Reduced-Lunch program during the school year and then its summer meals program, which is offered free (well, I suppose not - that $170,000 cost is paid by us taxpayers). Seven locations on the Westside alone. So where does it all stop? Clearly, many people, facing hard times, accept aid as a temporary thing while they pull their lives back together. But how many others, with weaker spines, seeing the free bounty coming their way, make a quiet choice to give up altogether? Some can't even be bothered to take their kids to get the free meals. And what about the kids themselves? As they grow up, will they assume they'll always get such freebies? Get irate if they don't? How will they raise their children? When does compassion become a crime?

- K.J.