Lunch denied to Mass. students | April 5
Threat of food insecurity
I read with dismay the recent article in the Tampa Bay Times about the nearly 25 students in a Massachusetts school who were denied lunch because their prepaid meal accounts were short of funds. Even more disconcerting is that some of the students were forced to dump their lunch in the garbage because they couldn't pay.
I have been doing research on food insecurity and hunger in the United States and abroad for nearly 20 years, and the problem has gotten worse, especially since the financial meltdown in 2008. The most recent data show that 14.9 percent of U.S. households (over 48 million people) are food insecure: they have limited access to adequate food because of a lack of resources such as money.
This number includes over 16 million children. There is overwhelming evidence showing hungry children are at heightened risk for doing poorly in school (as compared to children with adequate diets), and that depending on the timing of the hunger, their growth and cognitive development may be impaired.
In addition, there is some evidence that food insecure children who have an inadequate diet that is high in processed grains, fat and sugar are more likely to become obese and develop health problems as adults. Finally, there are also data showing that poor nutrition during early development might have adverse effects on the health of the children and grandchildren of these kids.
Unfortunately, because of its persistence, food insecurity often falls off the radar screen until reports like the case in Massachusetts are reported. The long-term implications of food insecurity and hunger are profound not only in terms of the health and well-being of individuals but also for a nation that needs to do a better job of educating and training its children for the high-skilled jobs of the 21st century and for living in an increasingly globalized and complex world.
Although dismaying, there was one bright spot in the article. Upon witnessing a child crying after being told to throw out her lunch, another student offered to share his lunch with her. As adults, we can learn a lot from the empathy and generosity of children.
David Himmelgreen, Tampa
Nelson flips on gay unions April 5
Nelson's change of heart welcome
John Romano's column Thursday stating that it was past time for Sen. Bill Nelson to support gay marriage prompted me to email the senator, urging his support. It must have generated a groundswell, because I see that Nelson has changed his position.
Nelson is a good man, but he needed a push to do the right thing. Thank you to John Romano for providing that push.
Linda Todd, St. Petersburg
On guns, uniting for a greater good | April 7, editorial
Fortify the schools
From what I have read, the shooter at Sandy Hook gained entry to the school by shooting out the glass in the locked school entry door. Once inside the school, there was no one to stop him.
Why not replace school entry and exit doors with the bulletproof material that is widely used in banks and convenience stores, and have an armed security guard at the school door? My bank has an armed security guard to protect our money; why can't we have an armed guard to protect our kids?
Terry Hobt, Tarpon Springs
Board approves $500,000 reward if Lopano stays at TIA April 5
This is just too much
I was thoroughly disgusted when I read the article on Tampa airport CEO Joe Lopano's huge salary of $350,000 a year plus $500,000 at the end of five years if he stays.
There is no individual worth that kind of money, especially because in one way or another it will be taken out of the hides of the people of Tampa Bay. It sickens me to think of the people out of work in the Tampa area who are living on handouts, feeling desperate because they can't find work.
Then I read that President Barack Obama is giving back 5 percent of his salary because of the sequester. Again, are we to feel thankful for his generosity when he won't even feel pinched because of this? To make this action palatable, I would suggest that all members of Congress also donate 5 percent of their salaries.
Kathleen Johnson, Wimauma
Walmart strains to stock groceries | April 5
The business section tells us that Walmart strains to stock groceries. Why? I don't need to guess. It's greed with a capital "G." Sales surge, customers flood the stores, and what does this company do? It cuts its workforce.
Are Walmart executives so blase as to think that the public doesn't mind bad quality and service just because of good prices? One would think that the business moguls of Walmart would know enough about their jobs to understand what it takes to have continued success.
I have been a faithful customer of some of their products, and have complained to managers about the dirty lettuce, spoiled fruit, soggy onions, poorly stocked shelves, etc. Treating customers with contempt seems to be their latest tactic. As customers, we can demand better, and it starts where we spend our money.
Lilyan V. Dayton, New Port Richey