Nutrition cuts are penny wise, pound foolishIt is with...

the Forum

April 04, 1995

Nutrition cuts are penny wise, pound foolish

It is with pain in my heart that I read about the House approval for welfare changes that would drastically cut federal family nutrition programs.

I question the motivation of legislators who vote for the deregulation and, ultimately, total destruction of one of the few programs in this country that nourishes those too weak, too poor or too young to nourish themselves.

As I walk through the cafeteria of my childrens' Baltimore County elementary school and see children eagerly spooning down bowls of cereal, yogurt and the like in the school breakfast program I wonder how one explains to a young child that it is more "personally responsible" for them to go hungry all day for the sake of the congressional budget process.

Never in the history of social programs have we "cured" a problem by punishing those who suffer from it. Yet the proposals about to go before the U.S. Senate are definitely punitive.

When the first "recommended dietary allowances" nutrition standards were devised in the 1940s, the needy were largely undernourished people teetering on the brink of deficiency diseases.

Our goal for nutrition programs was therefore to prevent deficiency and malnutrition. Through the successes of programs such as the school lunch, school breakfast, Women, Infants and Children and food stamps we have been able to shift the focus from warding off deficiencies to promoting "optimal health."

Yet how quickly we forget . . . If the sweeping cuts proposed by this legislature are put into effect we could very likely end up with a generation of growth-stunted, mentally compromised, malnourished people who are plagued with infections and muscle-wasting vitamin-mineral deficiencies -- all for the sake of "personal responsibility."

Contrary to the popular impression of nutrition support programs, we don't feed the indigent, the elderly, the young and the pregnant just because it's "nice."

We do it because a multitude of scientific evidence shows that dollars spent on nourishing at-risk populations result in great savings for health care costs later on.

For example, every dollar spent on nutrition for pregnant women in the WIC program saves $4.21 in Medicaid costs for both mother and newborn.

I hope that our legislators realize that the "personally responsible" thing to do is not to take food out of the mouths of those who need it most.

`Rosanna Baicich Gibbons

Sparks

The writer is a nutritionist.

Holocaust, again

John A. Micklos (letter, March 16) prays that "the fiendish concept of the holocaust will never again happen in any part of our universe."

According to a recent CIA report, the Serbs are "involved in a systematic attempt to eliminate all traces of other ethnic groups from their territory," (The Sun, March 9). Even without the CIA report, we have known this now for several years.

This situation is so akin to the situation which Mr. Micklos wishes to commemorate that it is truly hiding one's head in the sand by crying, "Never again!" . . .

It's as if we've built a shrine of grief for the rape of our mother while we ignore our daughter's being raped in the next room. Perhaps there is just too much "reality" in the world today for us to pay attention to anything other than old wounds.

Doris Rausch

Columbia

Falls Road bridge

Replacement of the Falls Road Bridge over the Beltway is unnecessary. It would be preferable to provide a southbound exit from I-83 at Old Court/Ruxton Road and a northbound access ramp to I-83 at the same interchange.

There would be several benefits:

It would cost less. Through traffic would be eliminated in the historic village of Rockland.

The dangerous intersection of Falls and Old Court roads would become much less troublesome.

Access to I-83 North for residents of Ruxton and points west on Old Court Road would be significantly improved.

The bottleneck on Old Court Road west of Falls Road would benefit from elimination of the traffic light at that intersection.

The extremely dangerous condition at the exit ramp from I-83 North onto Old Court/Ruxton roads could be improved by a traffic light coordinated with a light at the new northbound access ramp, across from the southbound access ramp.

The major inconvenience resulting from the temporary closing of the Falls Road Bridge for reconstruction would be eliminated, as the proposed ramps could be built prior to the removal of the existing bridge.

Let's hope the State Highway Administration will give this money-saving idea serious consideration, and that other concerned citizens will support it.

Herbert A. Davis

Brooklandville

The writer is principal of Herbert Davis Associates, a real estate firm.

Dangerous times

This is a dangerous time for political leaders of any stripe to take the short view.

It is gross hypocrisy for the Republican Congress to slash school meals, aid to education and inner city job programs while subsidizing farmers, miners and corporations by huge amounts.

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