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Everybody's Column

Students will indeed eat healthy foods if offered

In the June 12 News article, "Spitzer pushes school nutrition," Bridget O'Brien Wood, director of food services for the Buffalo Public Schools, and Jackie Jenks, president of the New York School Nutrition Association, both seem to believe that kids will reject healthier foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains if sold in schools. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

A study in the September 2006 American Journal of Public Health found that participation and net revenues increased in San Francisco middle and high schools when healthier food was introduced.

It's true that many kids have been raised on a steady diet of sugary, fried and processed foods. But that's no reason to keep the status quo. One in five children in New York State is classified as obese. Obese or overweight children will likely become obese or overweight adults and will have a much higher risk of heart disease, diabetes and other ailments that can kill.

It's time for school food service directors to join health organizations in demanding legislation that sets sensible nutrition standards in schools. School districts should not be selling junk food to our impressionable children. Our kids deserve better.

Nancy Huehnergarth

Director, New York State Center for Healthy Eating and Active Living

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Plan needed to fund Catholic high schools

The Journey of Faith and Grace concerning the elementary schools makes sense. Combining school resources and having each parish support the system, whether there is a parish school or not, makes sound financial sense to secure the future.

However, reducing funding to diocese high schools is void of any real plan. What needs to be addressed is the fact that all diocese high schools are directly responsible for maintenance of the high school buildings. These buildings are over 50 years old. The cost of replacing roofs, windows and boilers is put on the financial backs of the schools. The diocese takes no responsibility for the expensive upkeep of its buildings.

Where is the long-term plan to maintain these buildings? Is the diocese willing to walk away from tradition, outstanding schools and Catholic education? The high schools are in the business of quality education, not reconstruction of buildings they do not own.

The diocese should present a plan for the long-term stability and future of these great schools. Simply reducing aid is not a plan but a reaction void of creativity of thought.

William L. Tepas

Williamsville

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Food Stamp Initiative will help working poor

The best long-term way to reduce hunger is to empower low-income working families to develop the assets they need to climb out of poverty and enter the middle class. That's why Gov. Eliot Spitzer's Working Families Food Stamp Initiative is so important.

This proposal will simplify the process for low-income New Yorkers to access food stamp benefits. As a result, up to 100,000 additional working households, or more than 200,000 people, will get needed support to feed their families.

These are families who are working and off welfare -- and food stamps will help them stay there. The initiative will allow New York to waive many of the most onerous enrollment requirements for working people whose income is, at best, just above the poverty level. These changes will in no way be a back door for those seeking to fraudulently obtain food stamp benefits. A full range of frauddetection systems will remain in place.

A key focus of welfare reform has been ending the cycle of dependency by getting people to work. By providing low-income workers with an array of supports, New York has managed to reduce welfare rolls by nearly 70 percent. But ensuring that those moving into the work force can succeed requires providing them with the economic supports that help keep families out of poverty.

David A. Hansell

Commissioner, New York State Office of Temporary & Disability Assistance

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Opportunity was lost with grain mill's demise

Recently, I was able to attend Doors Open Toronto and delighted in viewing many of its historic buildings and areas over the two-day period.

Two of the most interesting features were the Roundhouse, now converted to a brewery, and the Distillery District, a Victorian industrial site that contains over 30 historical buildings. Four buildings were open to the public and a tremendous number of people viewed the scale tank loft, kiln furnace/barrel vaults, stone distillery and rack house, in addition to the other buildings that house arts, cultural and retail venues.

The adaptive reuse of this Victorian industrial fabric was initiated only 11 years after industrial activity ceased in 1990. In 2007, this jewel shines and is considered a national historic site.

This rapid succession from derelict property to an economic boom for Toronto sadly brings to mind the great potential for industrial tourism that the city lost with the arson and subsequent demolition of the Wollenberg Grain Mill. The remnants from the Wollenberg demolition will be on display at the Central Terminal during Doors Open Niagara.

Sophie Baj

Buffalo

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The haves don't care about the have-nots

With dismay, I read the article in the June 10 paper regarding compensation for local CEOs. Because I know individuals who have been living without heat and hot water, I find it offensive that National Fuel Gas can afford to pay its top man millions of dollars. The folks I know whose gas has been cut off due to lack of payment are not scofflaws or slackers. They are employed, hard-working people who at some point had to decide whether to pay the mortgage or the gas company. True, the gas company offers payment plans. True, it lets the debt accumulate for a time. But why does its CEO need to make $8 million a year?

The News also ran a story about seniors whose mortgages were being foreclosed. In the article on CEO salaries, two local bank CEOs were mentioned, each making more than $10 million annually.

The majority of Americans are becoming poorer while a select few are attaining heights of obscene wealth. The president's mother, Barbara Bush, at the Houston Astrodome after Hurricane Katrina, observed the survivors warehoused there and remarked, "So many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them."

It appears Marie Antoinette's fabled, flippant "let them eat cake" remark to the breadless masses has become an acceptable response from those who have to those who have not.

Polla Milligan

Buffalo

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