Give food to home­less so they can booze it up

Manteca Bulletin - - Opinion -

Ever won­der — if you’re one of those peo­ple who give pan­han­dlers money or food — what the re­sult of your “good deed” is?

On Satur­day shortly af­ter 6 p.m. we came across a home­less guy pan­han­dling for food at the stop sign on His­tor­i­cal Plaza Way at Spreck­els Av­enue. He was fly­ing the pre­req­ui­site card­board sign read­ing “Help Please, Very Hun­gry, God Bless.” Nearby was a pil­fered Food-4-Less shop­ping cart.

We saw a woman hand him a ro­tis­serie chicken, pre­sum­ably bought across the street at Food4-Less for around $5. The man took it of­fer­ing up his grat­i­tude.

So if the woman thought the home­less guy was go­ing to eat the chicken which ob­vi­ously would be a healthy meal, she will be dis­ap­pointed to learn the truth.

On Mon­day af­ter­noon we re­turned to the scene of what most of us would er­ro­neously believe was a good deed. Guess what we found in the Food-4-Less shop­ping cart very nicely left in the side­walk along Spreck­els Av­enue, which is the main road serv­ing Man­teca’s bustling Spreck­els Park? For starters the chicken was left un­touched and had spoiled. There was fast food bags from Jack in the Box, McDon­ald’s as well as Pan­era Bread. Items from all three places were left half eaten in the cart draw­ing ants. One hopes Food- 4- Less steam cleans their re­trieved shop­ping carts as Costco does.

Did we men­tion there was more stuff in the cart? There was an empty 25-ounce can of Modelo beer, an empty 25-ounce can of Busch beer, and an empty Louis Roed­erer cham­pagne bot­tle.

A dozen or so yards away was yet an­other cart with — you guessed it — more un­eaten food in­clud­ing po­ta­toes, un­eaten burg­ers from McDon­ald’s and more.

So what is the mes­sage from all this?

Lis­ten to the Man­teca Po­lice com­mu­nity re­source of­fi­cers who deal di­rectly with the home­less and have helped get neatly 300 re­united with fam­i­lies or into pro­grams to get help with ad­dic­tion as well as the non-profit staff and vol­un­teers who work tire­lessly to help the home­less. What do they say? Don’t en­able the home­less. Vir­tu­ally all home­less get ei­ther SSI, Social Se­cu­rity, dis­abil­ity, or gen­eral as­sis­tance checks from the county. Give them money and food and what does it free up their money for? Try al­co­hol, drugs, and cig­a­rettes.

The po­lice depart­ment has a voucher pro­gram where if a CRO comes across a home­less in­di­vid­ual in need of shoes, cloth­ing and such they can get it free of charge at the Hospice Hope Chest on South Main Street. If you feel in­clined to leave bags of used cloth­ing for them, do ev­ery­one a fa­vor and sim­ply drive around your own neigh­bor­hood and toss the cloth­ing out of your win­dow at ran­dom to trash up your area of Man­teca in­stead of do­ing it to the rest of the city.

The bot­tom line is true. The more com­fort­able the home­less are — fed, warm, dry, and hav­ing ba­sic needs taken care of — the more dif­fi­cult it is for the Man­teca Po­lice CROs and or­ga­ni­za­tions they work with to con­vince home­less to get off the street.

The goal is to make it as mis­er­able as pos­si­ble so they will ac­cept help­ing hands that have al­ways been there to re­unite them with fam­i­lies or to get clean so they have a chance at get­ting a job, se­cur­ing shel­ter, and not live on the street.

TOP PHOTO: One of two shop­ping carts left on Mon­day near Tar­get af­ter a home­less per­son spent much of Satur­day pan­han­dling at the stop sign on His­tor­i­cal Plaza Way at Spreck­els Av­enue. BOT­TOM PHOTO: This cart has a $5 ro­tis­serie chicken from a wannabe Good Sa­mar­i­tan was left un­touched next to two empty 25-ounce beer cans and an empty bot­tle of cham­pagne.

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