Here's a depressing story from CBS - New York City is turning away many food donations to its city homeless shelters (click here to read the whole article):
Outlawed are food donations to homeless shelters because the city can’t assess their salt, fat and fiber content, reports CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.
Glenn Richter arrived at a West Side synagogue on Monday to collect surplus bagels — fresh nutritious bagels — to donate to the poor. However, under a new edict from Bloomberg’s food police he can no longer donate the food to city homeless shelters....
Richter has been collecting food from places like the Ohav Zedek synagogue and bringing it to homeless shelters for more than 20 years, but recently his donation, including a “cholent” or carrot stew, was turned away because the Bloomberg administration wants to monitor the salt, fat and fiber eaten by the homeless.
This is what you get when government runs charity. Understandably, government work generally suffers from more bureaucracy and red tape than private business (or charities). After all, government work is supposed to be impartial and it is established by laws. It cannot respond with the same kind of personal judgment and nimbleness as private charities.
This is not to say that private charities are always more nimble than government charities. Far from it - there are many terribly inefficient and ineffective private charities. However, private charities do in general have much greater freedom to adapt, make contextual judgment calls, and respond to opportunities. As long as government is the source of charitable aid, you can expect to continue to see donations thrown out.