We'd like to say that The Garden Kitchen, a new community center in South Tucson, is a great idea.

But the truth is that it's exactly the kind of program government should no longer be funding.

Yes, it has laudable goals: to reduce obesity by teaching people how to garden and cook healthy. And yes, it has rehabilitated a shuttered restaurant in a struggling neighborhood and made it a welcoming place.

The trouble is the cost - $425,000 in taxpayer money, most of it federal. This in a country with a $1 trillion federal deficit.

We believe that reducing the deficit will require three things: a growing economy, increasing taxes and cutting spending. While the cost of The Garden Kitchen is relatively small, it cannot be justified when the federal government is spending so far beyond its means.

Gardening and cooking are two areas where Americans are fully capable of taking responsibility for their own choices. For those who are poorly informed, we already have taxpayer-funded public libraries - such as the one in South Tucson - where there's information about growing food and preparing healthy meals.

If there's truly a need for such a kitchen, private dollars should have been raised to pay for it.

The Community Kitchen is a well-intentioned project that Pima County and the University of Arizona shouldn't have built with taxpayer dollars.

Arizona Daily Star