May 21, 2013

Letters to the editor: LePage's goal to destroy public schools

(Continued from page 1)

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Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen and Gov. LePage unveil the school ranking system May 1. The head of the state teachers union is skeptical about the motive for implementing the system.

2013 Kennebec Journal File Photo/Joe Phelan

If Maine raised the tax on cigarettes, it would mean: Fewer young people will become smokers, more adults will quit smoking and our state would save millions of dollars every year in health care costs and raise more than $47 million in additional excise tax revenue.

The benefits of raising the cigarette tax in Maine are undeniable. I urge our Legislature to support a cigarette tax increase in Maine, for the good of our state and the health of its citizens.

Jan Ronan

volunteer, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network


Food stamp cuts will drive more Mainers to private aid

The Press Herald is correct that Maine is facing a hunger crisis ("Our View: Hunger crisis calls for immediate attention," May 6). Good Shepherd Food Bank works with hundreds of agencies to provide 13 million pounds of food annually to families facing hunger. And it's not enough. The number of food-insecure people in Maine has grown by 50 percent since 2005.

When our organization started more than 30 years ago, food banks and pantries were considered the "emergency food system," assisting people who needed help to get them through a rough patch. Now food pantries are part of the everyday lives of thousands of Mainers.

Forty percent of Mainers facing hunger make too much to qualify for government programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps). Yet they don't make a living wage and don't have adequate access to nutritious food.

We need a strong safety net for people who lack access to food. As Congress debates the farm bill this month, it should ensure robust funding for SNAP and other nutrition programs. If cuts are made, more Mainers will be forced to seek help from local charities that are already strained.

I am often asked, "Who are the hungry?" The majority of Mainers facing food insecurity are seniors, disabled persons and children.

One in four children in Maine faces hunger. Children, through no fault of their own, are being set up to fail because they lack the food they need to thrive.

The majority of people who need help have either already worked their entire life, are too young to work, or are unable to work. We must feed them. So much energy and money is spent on fixing society's problems, but how many problems could be prevented just by making sure people have food?

Kristen Miale

president, Good Shepherd Food Bank



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