Blog: Free fruit ethics

Catherine Sleep | 9 July 2003

A school in Leicestershire is withdrawing from a programme providing its pupils with free fruit because the scheme is paid for by the National Lottery and the parents of the school’s largely Muslim intake are opposed to gambling.

This reminds me of a lively and ongoing debate in our parish church, which runs a very productive social project in one of the most deprived areas of our town. Now in its eighth year, the project helps to rehabilitate young offenders as well as providing a drop-in centre for the local community and various other initiatives. The church puts a huge amount of effort into raising funds for it and it has been suggested by more than one member of the congregation that the National Lottery be approached to see if awards might be forthcoming to help improve facilities.

However, it is argued that accepting Lottery cash would be tantamount to the church endorsing gambling, which it considers inconsistent with biblical teaching. It is doubtless right to take the long view and stick to one’s principles, but the fact that many of the people who live in the part of town in question, that is to say the potential beneficiaries, spend significant sums of money on lottery tickets, it is a little frustrating that we can’t try to channel some of the benefit their way.

To return to the free fruit flop, now would be the ideal opportunity for one of the school’s local supermarkets to donate product to replace that offered by the Lottery scheme.

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