Letters to the Editor for June 15, 2017

Keep area rural

I’m so frustrated with the ever shrinking rural areas of Camas and Washougal. Driving down Crown Road today I saw a new subdivision sign being placed in the ground. How are we to accommodate the influx of students in a very tight school as it stands? And when do we get the chance to say no to more homes and yes to saving our small community? Just venting but really…when can we stop! #keepcamasrural

Lisa Schneider, Washougal

Is it time to reform SNAP?

An initiative supported by the Former First Lady Michelle Obama offers our legislature a roadmap for continuing to support healthy lifestyles for all Americans.

In 2005, when the national unemployment rate was trending at 4.9 percent, the number of recipients for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) was about 25 million. In 2016, the unemployment rates were again trending at 4.9 percent, but still there were 42.5 million adults that received SNAP benefits.

At seemingly full employment, why have the numbers for this subsidy program not decreased accordingly? Even accounting for population increases, the rate increased by 65 percent. It is time to turn it into a true nutrition supporting program for the truly needy.

No one is advocating stopping SNAP, but there are many good arguments to re-evaluate it and improve it in much the same way the Obama Administration improved the nutritional standards in school food-service programs.

One common concern from taxpayers is that this money is only used to buy soda and “junk food.” In reviewing a study by the USDA, in actuality, the food-buying patterns for SNAP recipients compared to other consumers are very similar.

Perhaps the actual concern is, or should be, why is the government supplementing the purchase of unhealthy food items in this program while insisting on the purchase of healthy food items in both the WIC and the school meal programs?

The goals of these three government subsidized programs are essentially the same, so why are two of them so much more restricted to align to the goal of healthy nutrition?

Perhaps as we reform, we should focus on aligning our programs to benefit the nutritional needs of those most needing the support.

No one is saying that SNAP recipients shouldn’t buy sweet and salty snacks and beverages. On the contrary, we are simply saying that would be something purchased with personal money, like soap and paper products currently are, not funds from a taxpayer-supported nutrition (assistance) program. This program is designed to supplement, not replace, a food budget.

In the spirit of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, it will continue to advocate healthy eating as anyone can use the SNAP-approved designators in making healthy food choices. It has the potential to decrease health care costs and increase all students seeing food at school look a lot more like food at home. For companies that benefit from SNAP dollars, there will be incentive provided by the marketplace to offer more healthy options for all customers.

As our economy continues to grow and annual recipient income reviews continue to identify people no longer eligible, the numbers will go down. By reforming our supplemental nutrition assistance program to actually promote nutrition, we promote healthy lifestyles for generations to come, a far higher goal.

These responsible reforms do what’s right for the health of America’s most vulnerable in a way that’s achievable in communities across the nation.

Helen Sudbeck, Washougal