A Sept. 6 Maine Voices column, “Snowe, Collins standing in the way of better nutrition in schools,” made a number of specious arguments in favor of a U.S. Department of Agriculture proposal to limit or eliminate some vegetables, like the white potato, from the public school lunch and breakfast programs.

We oppose this proposal because the USDA ignores the outstanding nutritional benefits of the potato, the proposal is not based on real world evidence, and school meal administrators in Maine tell us that it would significantly increase the cost of public school meals while robbing our children of growing up with a whole variety of nutritious staples including potatoes, corn, lima beans and green peas.

No one is arguing in favor of a diet based on french fries. The truth is — to combat the wave of obesity and promote more healthy food choices — we need to promote food items that present a diverse set of vitamins and minerals. When prepared properly, the potato is a powerhouse of nutrition and is a cost-effective option for the school lunch and breakfast programs.

According to the federal 2010 Dietary Guidelines, one small baked potato is the No. 1 source of potassium, is low-calorie, and is among the top sources of dietary fiber. In fact, a single serving of potatoes provides 45 percent of the recommended daily amount of Vitamin C, and is a significant source of iron.

As we wrote in a recent letter opposing the USDA’s blacklisting of the potato, we recognize the need to improve nutritional standards in school meals programs and also recognize that enhancing access to all fruits and vegetables may entail some additional cost.

However, we remain concerned that unnecessary limitations on healthy and affordable vegetables, like the white potato, sends the wrong message and can lead to a needless escalation in costs of the school meals programs at a time when our schools can least afford it.

U.S. Sen. Olympia J. Snowe
and U.S. Sen. Susan Collins

Washington, D.C. 

Who could look at babies and still support abortion? 

I am writing in regard to a letter by Rachel Narhood Austen dated Aug. 9, and titled, “All religious law, not just Sharia, threatens freedom.”

In her letter, in an apparent attempt to justify aborticide and homosexuality, she claims that “Efforts to restrict abortion and efforts to deny marriage rights to same-sex couples are attempts by fundamentalist Christians to impose religious restrictions on everyone.”

Apparently she would have us believe that all our laws are devoid of God and based on secular humanism. Not so. Take the commandment, “Thou shall not murder.” It’s embedded firmly in our laws, and is directly from the Bible. So are the majority of all our laws.

Those who are at war with God cry, “You can’t legislate morality!” Yet they are forever attempting to legislate immorality. What hypocrisy!

Is same-sex marriage immoral? God says it’s an abomination and Jesus also condemns it, saying, “God made them male and female and for this cause shall a man leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”

Meanwhile, no where in our Constitution can be found any law mentioning same-sex marriage. So now, once again, those who have only proud disdain for God, attempt to legislate immorality.

As for fundamentalist Christians and aborticide, out of love they are attempting to save the lives of 4,000 innocents murdered in the womb every day and which has now reached a total of over 50 million souls.

Let me ask: Have you ever watched a young baby, its eyes sparkling with life, look up at its mother and smile in complete happiness and trust, and thought: How could anyone be so uncaring and cruel as to deny life to such as these?

Philip E. Kennard

Best qualified for mayor? Markos Miller’s at the top 

As I prepare for the coming school year at Deering High School, my mind turns to the dedicated and talented staff of Portland Public Schools.

Particular leaders from our schools surface, such as my colleague Markos Miller, who is preparing not only to teach but also to lead Portland into a new era as Portland’s first elected mayor since 1923.

When Markos announced his run for mayor of Portland, I couldn’t have been happier. We need a smart, approachable person who is profoundly dedicated to Portland but who is not part of past City Council dynamics.

Markos is a leader at Deering and in the Portland community. At Deering he leads the Unity Project, devoted to increasing cultural awareness and respect among Portland’s youth. He is organized, inspired, and driven.

As the former, very active head of the Munjoy Hill Neighborhood Organization, Markos was instrumental in facilitating the revitalization of the neighborhood organization and has been at the center of the transformation of Munjoy Hill.

When Markos moved to Portland, Franklin Arterial (now Franklin Street) was accepted as dead space. As business in Bayside grew, so did issues that affected the city as a whole. Markos Miller headed up the Franklin Arterial Study, analyzing traffic patterns and pedestrian access, and created a vision for a roadway that can better serve Portland.

Despite the cutting of transportation-related projects all over the state, Markos facilitated communication that convinced the Maine Department of Transportation to approve the Franklin-Back Cove connector and to move the Franklin re-visioning process forward.

It is this kind of advocacy, creativity, and team work, as well as his combination of being a “big thinker” and a “detail person,” that makes Markos Miller the top candidate for Portland’s new mayor.

Kathryn Toppan

Sen. Trahan good lawmaker, will be great for SAM, too

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Sen. David Trahan for his work in Augusta, including helping the shellfish industry many times.

I would also like to congratulate David on his new position as executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine. As a member, I can say he will be a great asset to our organization. Again, David, thank you, and congratulations.

Clinton E. Collamore, Sr.