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School cafeterias tackle childhood obesity trends

Re: Childhood obesity.

Editor: Pasco County Schools Food and Nutrition Services Department is dedicated to promoting healthy lunch and breakfast choices for our students.

Three registered dietitians, a dietetic technician and two certified dietary managers are on our team to help us develop healthy menus, establish meal standards, review cafeteria operations and establish formal training programs for cafeteria workers. School menus are analyzed to ensure that they meet the nutrition standards established by the United States Department of Agriculture and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

We were one of the first school districts in Florida to remove deep fat fryers from our school kitchen and to offer bottled water as a beverage choice to students. We offer low-fat versions of popular food items such as pizza, hot dogs and corn dogs and provide low-fat condiments and salad dressings for sandwiches and salads. Elementary students have limited access to snacks and a la carte choices are available.

Fresh fruit and vegetable cups, hot vegetable dishes, garden and specialty salads and 100 percent fruit juice are offered daily; our average daily expenditure for fresh fruits and vegetables is $4,250. Vegetable dishes are steamed and prepared with low-fat vegetable bases, rather than adding salt and fat, and vegetarian meals are available upon request.

The School District is participating in two programs designed to increase consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. As a part of the "Fresh 2 U" program sponsored by Florida's Department of Education and Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, we are encouraging all students in grades 1-5 to try 20 different Florida fruits and vegetables throughout the school year. We are one of the few districts participating in the "Eat Your Colors Every Day" pilot program sponsored by the Produce for Better Health Foundation and have introduced a variety of new specialty salads at Lake Myrtle Elementary School and Bayonet Point Middle School.

Pasco County Schools' Food and Nutrition Services Department is exploring ways to work with other county allied health organizations to develop strategies to help reverse the child obesity trend and work with Pasco County representatives from the governor's task force on obesity issues.

Richard Kurtz, director,

Food, Nutrition and Distribution Services

Pasco County School District

Filman's Bayou, Blue Waters

can be preserved with oversight

Re: Filman's Bayou was too peaceful to be left alone, Oct. 31 letter.

Editor: Filman's Bayou and the two brackish water pits (we fondly call the Blue Waters) are some of west Pasco's few remaining true examples of Florida's Nature Coast.

My family has also enjoyed many days of watching dolphins dining, otters, meandering manatees and wonderful water fowl there.

We have spoken to a wildlife ranger who was monitoring the activity in that area, which means someone knows this place exists and that the fishing is good there.

And once again, it has been closed to the public.

Does anyone reading this know what's going on at Filman's Bayou?

Is this the same area that we have heard would perhaps be turned into a county park?

Why was it opened up? Why was it closed again? Who decides to open/close it? What can we do to keep this area open and be allowed access to fish and swim there?

If, indeed this is that area which someday may be a park, please consider the following cost-effective suggestions:

Don't modify it with piers and pavilions. Instead, put out some trash cans and empty them once in a while.

Put a small ranger station there to monitor user activity including licensing, littering and catch limits.

Have perhaps a work-release crew to aid in the initial clean up of the area and then let that ranger make sure the trash cans are used.

Keep the dirt bikes out. There are many places to enjoy dirt bikes elsewhere.

Please don't keep us from enjoying this beautiful, historic area. There are still some decent taxpayers out here who appreciate and enjoy the serenity and scenery at Filman's Bayou.

Peggy Zint, New Port Richey

No impropriety in political contributions to sheriff

Re: "Bundled' funds aid sheriff in campaign, Oct. 31.

Editor: The article unjustly suggests wrongdoing on the part of Sheriff Bob White in raising political contributions. Anyone who has ever been involved in a bid for election or re-election knows it is costly. Who else would you rely upon other than friends and acquaintances for support? If I use a personal friend or community acquaintance as a reference in applying for a job, does that raise a question of impropriety merely because they support me?

I moved to Port Richey approximately a year ago to join my teenage son. During our adjustment, I had the need to call the sheriff's department for assistance. As a former member of law enforcement, I was totally impressed with the way the deputies handled the situation. On at least two other occasions, neighbors and I have telephoned the sheriff's department concerning problems in the neighborhood. In each instance we experienced the same decorum and professionalism. Maybe it was just a fluke.

I have never had the honor of meeting White, but I highly respect the man because of the professionalism exhibited by his deputies and staff. It is a direct reflection of his leadership. If I had an extra $500, I would gladly contribute to Sheriff White's bid for re-election. I also would encourage my wife and my son to exercise their own independent voice in contributing and voting. And if I had a business in the county, I would likewise encourage my partner or partners to do the same. Within the confines imposed by our legislators, there is no impropriety. It seems to me that White is continuing to uphold the oath of his office. But what do I know?

George J. Pearce III, Port Richey

Avoid a fight and honor Martin Luther King Jr. some other way

Editor: The fight over Sixth Avenue's name is just more stirring of the pot, pitting one side against the other, creating more prejudice and anger.

Why should the people who live on Sixth Avenue have to change their addresses again? We've already been through several ZIP code changes, and, a few years ago, we all had to change house numbers for 911 renumbering. Now, on someone's whim, we are supposed to change the name of a street that is part of our original grid of numbered streets and avenues.

Why put any person's name on a street to upset the grid? Why must every city in this country be compelled to have a street named for the same person? We have already too many Kennedys and too many Reagans! There are many other places and new streets that could receive this name without upsetting existing addresses. Or put up a monument or plaque dedicating some park. Let's not stir up the animosity; the pot of prejudice is going to come to a boil one of these days. It doesn't need to be here in this town!

E. Jane Carrigan, Zephyrhills

Port Richey city manager should be booted instead of police chief

Re: Police chief is shown the door, Nov. 1.

Editor: The only one who should be fired is the Great White Hunter Vince Lupo, the Port Richey city manager, who was unavailable Friday.

He probably went hunting.

Mary Voiles, New Port Richey

Wal-Mart stays affordable so long as competition remains

Editor: I learned firsthand about Wal-Mart's philosophy and ultimate goals. My daughter is getting married in a few months and needed 60 votive candle holders for tables at her reception. I found appropriate ones at the Wal-Mart on U.S. 19 and Ridge Road for 44 cents each. Only 36 were available. I drove up U.S. 19 to Hernando County to the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Spring Hill. They had the holders at 57 cents each.

Surprised at the 13-cent difference, I asked a clerk about it. He chortled and said, "You people in Pasco County still have K-Mart."

That sentence spoke volumes about that little grinning yellow face, knocking down prices in Wal-Mart ads. When no competition is left, there will be no more little faces. Where will the taxes be from closed stores and unemployed people? Something for commissioners to ponder.

Ninette Waizenhofer, Bayonet Point

Wal-Mart's prices will force other stores to slash their own

Re: Wal-Mart.

Editor: The people in Beacon Woods say Wal-Mart will drive the small business owner out of business. But, in conjunction with stores like Publix, Kash n' Karry, Albertsons and the small business owners, prices are outrageous.

It takes a store like Wal-Mart to bring the prices in harmony with the peoples' needs. Wal-Mart has a store brand called Valuepack of which the products are the same or better. If you don't comparison shop, you either are very rich or not smart.

Walden St. Germain, Hudson

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