Universal free school meals would provide schoolchildren with a nutritious...

Universal free school meals would provide schoolchildren with a nutritious breakfast and lunch, half a child’s daily caloric needs, and would improve achievement and health. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

Free school meals benefit all children

Children in every U.S. county suffer food insecurity [“Food aid cutback sparking concern,” News, March 2]. One in seven children in New York State experiences hunger. Even here on affluent Long Island, 68,000 children are food insecure.

Hungry children cannot focus. They experience toxic stress that, combined with lack of proper nutrition, leads to physical and cognitive delays.

The federal government provides school meals; however, children in a family of four earning over $51,400 don’t qualify. Statewide, 470,000 children are ineligible for federal aid yet live in households earning less than a living wage.

Many families qualifying for meals in school don’t apply due to social stigma or administrative or language barriers. The debt from unpaid school meals falls upon school districts at an estimated $24.9 million statewide.

Our state American Academy of Pediatrics, along with 250 other health, education and anti-hunger organizations, urge legislators to support universal free school meals in the budget.

It would provide a nutritious breakfast and lunch, half of a child’s daily caloric needs, and would improve achievement and health.

We must do all we can to combat food insecurity for children whose bodies and brains are still developing. This initiative would be a truly impactful investment in our children’s health, well-being and future.

— Dr. Eve Meltzer Krief, Centerport

The writer is legislative advocacy co-chair of the New York American Academy of Pediatrics Chapter 2.

Hochul’s smoke plans will save lives

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network projects that over 28,000 New Yorkers will die as a result of tobacco use this year. We cannot delay action. I am glad that Newsday’s editorial board agrees “It’s time to ban menthol smokes,” Editorial, Feb. 28].

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s tobacco proposals, which include ending the sale of menthol cigarettes and all flavored tobacco products and raising the cigarette tax by $1 per pack, are concrete actions that New York State can take to limit disease resulting from tobacco use.

Ending the sale of menthol cigarettes and all flavored tobacco products is the bold step we need to deter tobacco use. Data indicate that almost half of youth who smoke use menthol cigarettes, which have been linked to more tobacco-related deaths than any other flavored tobacco product.

Similarly, a $1 increase to the cigarette tax would prevent over 14,400 youth from starting to use tobacco. In the first year, this policy would generate $51 million in revenue, a portion of which should be used to restore funding to the state Tobacco Control Program.

Lives are on the line. Hochul’s proposals are critical to saving lives and shepherding a tobacco-free generation.

— Patricia Bishop-Kelly, Huntington Station

The writer is vice chair of the American Cancer Society board of advisers.

Who’ll pay to clean up things? Consumers

I often see letters, articles and op-eds, such as “Shift the cost of waste to producers” Opinion, Feb. 28], saying that companies should pay to help clean the environment and not charge consumers. While working to improve the environment is certainly important and necessary, companies earn revenue by selling goods and services. Any plan that makes a company pay to clean the environment will find costs passed on to consumers.

We will indeed be paying for any of these plans. While that may not necessarily be a bad thing considering that cleaning the environment is one of the most important tasks we face, let’s remember that no matter how this is done, it will be consumers or taxpayers who will foot the bill.

— Paul Fein, Oceanside

At the start of the pandemic, I ordered laundry detergent. I was surprised to see it came from Canada in a cardboard box with a bladder insert, basically a bag in a box. How much plastic would be eliminated if this was implemented here.

It seems the issue might not be that we do not know how to reduce plastic waste but how we handle plastic manufacturing profits and job eliminations by making these changes.

— Carol Morisco, Melville

Jan. 6 recordings: We have a right to know

A reader said turning over “sensitive” surveillance recordings to Fox News host Tucker Carlson is a breach of trust “McCarthy made big mistake with Fox,” Letters, Feb. 27].

I ask: a breach of whose trust? House Speaker Kevin McCarthy isn’t fit, but Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) is? The First Amendment means we have a right to know. Stop telling us we are not entitled to know. The American people can formulate their own opinions whether McCarthy should resign or whether Carlson is a liar and conspiracy theorist.

— Roger Rothman, Commack

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