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  1. Opinion

Food assistance programs give back to our community and our economy | Letters

Here’s what readers are saying in Friday’s letters to the editor.

Help us fight hunger for all

Mega pantry event helps thousands of families | May 10

Nikki, a single mom who lost her job at the start of COVID-19, has received no income in a month. She waited in line for an hour to receive groceries at a mega-distribution. When families like Nikki’s receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, they can purchase groceries with dignity, and those dollars are circulated within and stimulate local economies.

Research suggests that for every dollar spent by SNAP, $1.70 is added to the economy. With Florida’s unemployment rate nearing 10 percent, the number of people needing food relief has nearly doubled—from 650,000 to 1.1 million. Congress should increase SNAP benefits by 15 percent to help feed families who are already and newly struggling against hunger. We also urge Congress to increase the SNAP minimum benefit from $16 to $30 to help individuals impacted by COVID-19, particularly seniors, for the duration of the economic downturn.

Now, more than ever, we all must help our Tampa Bay neighbors in need.

Thomas Mantz

The writer is the chief executive officer of Feeding Tampa Bay.

No control over growth

Congestion, not growth, is the issue | Column, May 19

A new house under construction in Waterset on Big Bend Road in Hillsborough County's Apollo Beach area.

Since 2011, when our Florida Department of Community Affairs was completely demolished, we Floridians lost the only control mechanism that helped us manage growth. Consequently, “congestion” is caused by hyper-development, as a result of no growth management. “Gridlock” is caused by hyper-development, too. If we can’t have reasonable growth management at our state level, local commissioners have no choice but to develop growth management plans at the local level.

But opening the door to unbridled growth outside of cities will cause the same malignant congestion and gridlock elsewhere. All the while, those who indulge in unbridled hyper-development make fortunes that afford them luxuries to avoid the congestion and gridlock they impose on others.

Ginger Goepper, Treasure Island

Clean up just one piece

Helping the environment during COVID-19

I am an eighth grader at Berkeley Preparatory School, and I had an idea. I know that lately there have been little to no organized beach clean-ups, since that is not a priority right now. While I think the environment is extremely important, I wholeheartedly believe people should not jeopardize their health or the health of others to maintain it right now.

I was thinking the newspaper could advertise a “one piece pick-up.” Readers would be encouraged on a certain date to beautify their community by picking up one piece of trash they see. It would be a way for people to help the environment while still maintaining safe social distancing guidelines.

Emily McDermott, Tampa

Show, don’t tell

Bars want to get back to work | May 21

Protesters meet to express their discontent with the continued closure of bars in Pinellas County in front of the Clearwater Courthouse on May 20, 2020, as states, counties and cities throughout the United States work through the phases of reopening in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]

I feel for the bar workers. I know they have bills to pay. They say bars can reopen safely. However, of the 13 people in the photo, only three are wearing masks. There is no distancing. How is this safe behavior?

Susan Ballard, Gulfport