Kids denied, food dumped: Hello?

I was shocked by the Feb. 11 article “Students left hungry when they can’t pay,” and the real kicker was way at the end: “The state could expand the free lunch program to all students who now receive reduced-price lunch for an estimated $3.35 million.” Compare that with the millions we are paying for the new Vikings stadium and other discretionary projects.

Hey! We are talking about kids going hungry. This is not open for debate. Feed our students in Minnesota a healthy meal that they will look forward to. Provide nutritious meals that will teach students the value of eating healthfully. We spend millions of dollars on education every year, but if a child’s stomach is grumbling, how is she or he going to learn math? How are students going to learn the value of nutritious food if you give them a bread-and-butter sandwich? How are we going to teach them fairness and kindness if they are embarrassed and shamed while being turned away at the lunch line for failure to pay?


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Looking for a great way to close the achievement gap? Humiliate and intimidate children in front of their peers! Even those who don’t have their lunches dumped will witness this and learn something. Very effective educational environment. That should get them all on the right track.

I expect that a better solution can be found that will help, not hurt, children.


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Poor or not, money or not, children are our collective responsibility. The movers and shakers in this country — the “job creators” — had better wake up to the fact that we are devolving into a Dickensian society of abject poverty alongside unlimited wealth. I agree with a recent letter writer in that part of the solution is to pay the working poor a living wage. Then these kids could afford their own lunches.




Buy it? Go without? It’s no contest — buy it

While I appreciate the Star Tribune’s coverage of the changes in our health care system, I was frustrated by the Feb. 11 article “Price of coverage is still too high for some,” which extensively quoted a woman and her family who are struggling to afford health insurance.

I can understand that she is finding it difficult to find the money to pay for insurance, but she is quoted as having consulted a financial planner and having reached the conclusion that “if you do the math” you are better off without health insurance. No reasonable person could possibly reach that conclusion. A single trip to a hospital can easily cost many years’ worth of health insurance premiums, or even years of total income.

It was irresponsible to let her comments go uncontested, since many people may mistakenly think that she is right. She is clearly not right, and her mistake could be devastating financially for her and her family, as well as for the rest of us who are likely to be forced to pick up the tab when she ends up in an emergency room.




Commentary’s critics are missing the point

There have been enough photos and videos taken by people working undercover in agribusiness for anyone to see the truth of how farm animals are treated in many cases, if they so wish (“Vicious? Some think so, but farmers object,” Readers Write, Feb. 9). The person who wrote defending farmers from the “PETA-like opinions” in the original Feb. 2 commentary by Bonnie Blodgett missed the point: Of course there are family farmers who treat their animals humanely, but for the large meat farms whose only guiding principle is profit, it’s a different story.

The point is that the family farm is disappearing, and what’s left is megabusiness that couldn’t care less about animal suffering. Caring about the welfare of animals and calling out animal abuses has become un-American, unpatriotic somehow, rather than a signpost for betterment of ourselves as humans. To strive for better personal health as well as the health of this Earth and her creatures is an ideal it would behoove us all to recognize.




Let’s maybe hold back on the high-fives

Regarding the Feb. 8 Letter of the Day (“Will others who sell cigarettes stop doing that, like CVS?”), the results are in: CVS ranks second to last in Consumer Reports’ latest ratings of 33 pharmacies. Those who think that the termination of the sale of cigarettes by CVS is motivated by some sort of altruism have been caught up in a carefully crafted marketing message. If not selling cigarettes is a good thing, then so be it, but it has little to do with “social responsibility.”



NIGHTTIME visibility

Pedestrians, bikers need reflective trim

My deepest sympathy goes out to the family and friends of Marcus Nalls (“Cops: Drunken driver killed cyclist,” Feb. 5). Drunken driving is a terrible crime that results in many tragedies.

Both the Star Tribune and a police spokesman referred to precautions that Nalls had taken for riding at night — a helmet, and front and rear lamps. This demonstrates a woeful lack of understanding in our society about nighttime visibility.

In order to be effectively visible to drivers at night, pedestrians need to wear reflective trim. A driver cannot see a headlamp or blinking light on a bicycle until too close to safely react. High-visibility reflective material works by shining the driver’s headlights back to his or her eyes, from a much greater distance.

Anyone who bikes, jogs, walks to class, or walks a dog at night along city streets should wear reflective trim.