Horizon should focus on Howard, not a cola war

November 05, 2013

The multi-million dollar Horizon Foundation, whose purpose is to address local Howard County health issues, spent $40,000 on ads to convince Coca-Cola to amend its advertising of sugary drinks ("Horizon Foundations launches television ads promoting healthier drinks," Oct. 25).

The Horizon Foundation has chosen not to fund numerous Howard County non-profit organizations, including Grassroots, that serve the indigent and mentally ill of Howard County. Instead, Horizon Foundation decided its purpose is to address a very important national issue, Coca-Cola and its national advertising. That $40,000 could have purchased significant quantities of medicine and mental health services for the underserved of Howard County.

Also, rather than address lifestyle choices and habits of Howard County residents that influence what we eat and drink, the Horizon Foundation has determined that Public Enemy No. 1 is the sugary drink. What a smoke screen! The issues are not sugary drinks or advertising by corporations or the availability of high caloric foods. The issue is simply one of personal choice.

Battling obesity is a noble cause. However, the impetus for awareness and change is developing programs that educate the citizens of Howard County about the health issues surrounding obesity and how to establish healthy eating practices.

Assisting the under-served of Howard County is also a necessary project. The "payoff" for supporting Howard County-based non-profit organizations is not as dramatic or headline catching as attacking Coca-Cola. It is, however, the humanitarian thing to do.

It is time for the board of the Horizon Foundation to revisit the foundation's original purposes. The foundation needs to support local Howard County health initiatives, provide ongoing funding for many diverse non-profit county programs (as opposed to requiring annual re-submission of grant applications) and leave national issues to national foundations.

Dr. N. Joseph Gagliardi, Columbia

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