Government Agencies in Missouri Provide $4 Million in Food Annually
Using the “Show Me: The Spending” web tool, I isolated the amount of money that government agencies in Missouri have spent on agency-provided food during the last decade:
Trend of Agency-Provided Food In Missouri (2009 dollars)
When I was an undergrad at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, I sat on the Student Services Finance Committee, which allocated $28 million to student organizations providing educational and diversity services. During our budget hearings, the issue of organization-provided food was one of the more controversial.
I’ve always thought that food is an example of wasteful spending, whether it be funded by student-segregated fees or taxpayer dollars, because it isn’t available to and doesn’t directly benefit all students on campus, or all taxpayers within a state. Once it is consumed, it cannot be used again. Plus, $4 million per year is a big tab — and this sum doesn’t include money spent on food while traveling. If government agencies in Missouri stopped providing food, they could make up 2/3 of the revenue that is lost through the sales tax exemption on yachts, for example.
That stated, I realize that it is unrealistic for this number to be zero; there are certain situations in which agency-provided food can be appropriate. On the SSFC, we adhered to a food policy in order to be consistent and viewpoint neutral.
On the bright side, at least government agencies in Missouri haven’t increased their expenditure on food over the last decade.