SNAP to it
Every day thousands of our neighbors, friends, families and coworkers silently suffer from hunger. Instead of allowing us to help them, Congress is proposing cuts to vital programs that help feed families, children and the elderly. We can’t let this happen.
About one in six people are hungry, and half of those are children. Many Maine residents are struggling to put food on the table and lead healthy lifestyles; in fact, 15.7 percent of Maine households live in food-insecure households.
Currently, programs are in place that can help solve the hunger and health problems that our hardworking community members face. Two such programs are the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, otherwise known as food stamps, which supplements our fellow hungry Americans’ diet with nutritious food, and its corresponding education program that empowers families to make long-lasting healthy food choices on a limited budget.
In Maine, 19 percent of our population participate in the SNAP program, with 64 percent of those participants being families with children, and 34 percent being families with elderly or disabled people. Thanks to SNAP-Ed, Maine residents have developed skills such as cooking, grocery shopping and budgeting to keep their families healthy. I personally work as a nutrition educator through the SNAP-Ed program and have personally seen how people’s lives can change through the educational opportunities this program provides.
As our country continues to face the consequences of poor nutrition habits, SNAP and SNAP-Ed continues to be under fire during Farm Bill deliberation on Capitol Hill. We must keep SNAP and SNAP-Ed programs in our state to ensure our communities stay healthy.
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children will soon celebrate its 40th anniversary. WIC is a federally funded supplemental nutrition program for infants, children and pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women.
In 1968, a group of physicians confronted the government about an increase of illnesses in pregnant women due to lack of food. In 1972, Sen. Hubert Humphrey, D-Minn., started the disease prevention pilot program; and in 1974 it became a permanent program enrolling 88,000 participants.
In 1996, the U.S. Department of Agriculture kick-started a national breastfeeding campaign called Loving Support after being required to promote breastfeeding. Breastfeeding promotion is a huge part of WIC, providing soon-to-be mothers the resources and support to be able to breastfeed their babies.
In the early 2000s, the Food and Nutrition Service worked with the Institute of Medicine to realign WIC foods with dietary and infant feeding guidelines under the American Academy of Pediatrics. WIC offers seven different food packages, providing a wide variety of healthy foods.
WIC now focuses on health promotion. It provides education on breastfeeding guidance and support, developmental milestones, nutrition and referrals to health and social services. WIC employees have educational backgrounds in public health and nutrition with some agencies employing registered dietitians and certified lactation consultants.
WIC now serves more than 9 million participants nationally. Future upgrades include new foods, paperless benefits and text message appointment reminders.
So let’s celebrate and embrace the nurturing care and educational support WIC provides to all participating families.
I enjoyed The Forecaster’s Sept. 10 article about the Cozy Acres zero-emissions greenhouses in North Yarmouth. Jeffrey Marstaller estimates that his new greenhouse with a geothermal system and solar panels will save his business more than $13,000 per year. Imagine how much his business would save if fossil fuels were priced to include their externalities (the costs that society pays to deal with the damage caused by emissions, which users currently emit for free).
If Congress would pass a revenue-neutral carbon tax to force polluters to pay for the damage their pollution causes, then more people and businesses would be motivated to invest in renewable energy. Private investors would rush to fund new clean energy businesses, and with border adjustments for the tax, other countries would feel compelled to enact a similar carbon pricing system. Once a carbon tax is in place, Marstaller will know the true value of his wonderful zero emissions greenhouse.
Please write an editorial endorsing a revenue-neutral carbon tax and please ask Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King to co-sponsor it.
Judy Weiss, member of Citizens Climate Lobby
The Sept. 5 BDN article, “Former MDI minister defrocked after suspension” appears to be inaccurate and misleading. In truth, there were two different committees involved. The first committee actually suspended William Bigelow from his two churches for misconduct some 30 years ago, prescribing and overseeing disciplinary action for three years, during which time he studied, fulfilling specific tasks and received therapy from three separate professionals. He fulfilled all the committee’s requirements, accepting full responsibility for his misconduct, and was therefore recommended for reinstatement on May 2 by the first committee to a newly installed second committee — of totally different clergymen with the exception of the Rev. Gerry Gregerson, chairman. At his meeting and the next, Bigelow was accompanied by a UCC clergyman who can substantiate everything.
On July 29, the second committee — absent the Rev. Gregerson — reversed itself, citing two strange reasons. Reason one, he had made phone calls to three church friends, who had asked him to keep in touch about his future. This seems a trivial reason for such a harsh penalty. Reason two, he was no longer fit to be minister. This is a spurious charge, since it was action taken by the first committee, who excluded the then-board of directors from all proceedings that damaged the church by suspending him. Bigelow was a capable minister and inspired speaker, who increased church attendance and helped put his church on sound financial footing.
For the children
If not but for the children, would the world have changed in 2013. President Barack Obama was the first leader to take a stand the day the children died. On Aug. 21, many Syrian people lost their lives in the name of power. Secretary of State John Kerry stated during his passionate but eloquent plea for a unified stand against Syria, “We will be judged in history on what we do today.”
I wake up every day thankful that I live in America and have Canada to our north. Our countries have supported each other in the past, but not today. Even many Americans fear getting involved in Syria. Perhaps the fear of terrorism is ruling the day.
Ladies and gentlemen, if you have considered not supporting Obama at this time, pause and put yourself in the situation the citizens of Syria are facing. The Syrian government needs to see a united front by the most powerful countries on this earth.
For the children, please take a stand for what you believe in. Call, write or email our leaders, congressmen and women, the U.N., your family, neighbors, local newspapers and anyone who will listen to you today.
The children who survive today will live to read, hear, talk and write about how the adults of today took responsibility for them and their world. How do you think they will judge us tomorrow for what we did today?