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Newsday letters to the editor for Wednesday, March 7, 2018

A rally for tighter school security in Laurel

A rally for tighter school security in Laurel County, Ky., on Feb. 21, 2018, a week after a gunman killed 17 people in a Florida high school. Credit: AP / Claire Crouch

President’s budget threatens food aid

I am writing to express concern about the president’s proposed cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in his 2019 budget [“Budget swells deficits,” News, Feb. 13].

It’s essential that people can obtain food to keep themselves and their families healthy. Research shows that people who don’t have access to healthy meals are more likely to suffer poor health. SNAP ensures that families can have enough food to eat and can still make ends meet.

SNAP doesn’t help only families, seniors and people with disabilities. It also benefits local businesses, retailers and farmers, pumping money into our economy, which raises wages and creates higher-paying jobs. For all these reasons, any effort to cut SNAP is harmful and short-sighted.

Unfortunately, the president’s budget represents a major threat. It’s not just the much-discussed Harvest Box, which would replace SNAP with a package of nonperishable milk, peanut butter, canned fruits and meats, cereal and other items. This approach would ignore the nutrition and health needs of individuals and could create a logistical nightmare.

Linda Bopp, Albany

Editor’s note: The writer is executive director for Hunger Solutions New York, a nonprofit organization.

On school security and gun laws

One immediate and low-cost safety procedure could be put in place in all middle and high schools [“LI district proposes armed guards,” News, Feb. 27]. Have security personnel inspect all backpacks, book bags, sports totes, music cases and art cylinders brought to school. Long guns and ammunition magazines are not easily hidden on a person’s body. Security folks might also find illegal drugs like opioids, which would help fight another problem.

Chuck Darling, South Setauket

Along with so many after the massacre in Parkland, Florida, I was heartened and inspired by the teenagers who spoke out so forcefully and eloquently against all that is wrong with our laws and our complacent attitude toward America’s gun culture [“Historic moment for high schoolers,” Opinion, Feb. 27]. I was excited by their leadership and the clarity of their comments and reasoning.

I was happy to say to myself, “Let them lead, and I will follow.” And then I realized how absurd this is! Have we adults failed so terribly in our responsibility to safeguard our children that we look to them to be in the forefront of change? Have we allowed ourselves (gun owners and non-gun owners) to be so cowed by the extreme positions of the National Rifle Association and ultra conservatives that we no longer can recognize and insist on common sense? Have our children written us off as uncaring, uninvolved, unwilling to take a stand and unable to make a positive difference?

I am ashamed of who we have become — a society that pretends sorrow at the tragedy of others but which turns its collective head and says there’s nothing we can do.

Eileen Toomey, Huntington Station

Editor’s note: The writer is a retired school administrator.

Insurance-mental health disconnect

The Feb. 26 news story “LI mental health aides tell of work in Fla.,” reported on efforts to give emotional first aid to survivors of the Florida school shooting. In times like these, society needs a broad discussion about mental illness.

That discussion needs to be about how health insurance companies and the elected officials who count on their donations fail miserably at having adequate numbers of providers who take their insurance.

To address this issue, North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center launched Project Access. We surveyed almost 650 respondents across Long Island about the ease or difficulty they faced in finding timely and affordable access to care.

When a family struggling with the stigma of mental illness finally reaches out for help and is told, “I don’t accept your insurance,” it can cause members to retreat and further delay getting the aid they need. For many families, access delayed is access denied.

Our study found that almost half of participants indicated that it was more difficult to find help for mental health or substance use disorders when they were in crisis than finding help for physical illnesses. Nearly 40 percent said their insurance companies did not have an adequate number of providers.

Andrew Malekoff, Long Beach

Editor’s note: The writer is executive director of the nonprofit children’s mental health agency North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center in Roslyn Heights.

LIRR must talk to commuters on trains

Communication is mentioned as one of the problems the Long Island Rail Road intends to fix [“MTA’s strategy for improvement,” News, Feb. 21].

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority states that various communication areas need improvement, including internet notices, audio updates and more GPS data points. However, what about onboard announcements? Technology is fine, but talk to the commuters on the trains in real time!

Christine Gietschier, Westbury