Durham News: Opinion

June 27, 2014

Your letters, June 29

What a great thing to learn that Durham Public Schools will now provide free breakfasts to all children. However, we should also take a close look at what these meals contain.

Free meal not always a healthy meal

What a great thing to learn that Durham Public Schools will now provide free breakfasts to all children. However, we should also take a close look at what these meals contain.

In the DPS May breakfast menu, one finds mostly dubious choices. Added sugar and refined carbohydrates abound.

Consider the “whole grain/reduced sugar” cereals. Reduced sugar is better than high sugar, but all of the cereals have added sugar. Take Fruit Loops for example: Sure, they have some whole grain but not only whole grains, and the first ingredient listed is sugar.

It is unsettling to note that the 1 percent and skim milk available both contain more sugar than whole milk. The organic soy milk is lactose free, and some brand options are available unsweetened, but I would lay a small wager that DPS does not offer them.

One hundred percent fruit juice, that’s healthy, right? Not really; it’s also high in sugar, and usually lacks the fiber and other nutrients from the fruit itself. There really is no healthy sugar; the only viable options are fruits and vegetables naturally low in sugar and starch.

Only two days of each week on the menu list a dish containing a protein food (such as turkey sausage or chicken), and each one is wrapped in refined flour: breakfast pizza, biscuit or pancake.

Part of the problem is likely the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which are at odds with a growing body of research indicating that low-fat anything is not good for us, that 45-65 percent of total calories from carbohydrates (recommended by the guidelines) is far too high and that recommended amounts of protein are too low.

But revised Guidelines are due to be published in 2015, so perhaps there is hope for changes that will finally begin to reduce the incidence of obesity in children, which is up 300-400 percent since the 1970s.

I have no doubt that these free breakfasts are far better for the children than no breakfast, but DPS and most school systems in the U.S. have a long way to go to provide truly healthy food for students.

Randy Hamilton


Common-sense solution

I strongly urge people to read the June 10 letter “ Difficult VA tour,” (N&O, bit.ly/1qHFcvY) as it was brimming with common sense and fairness. The Category 8 rule giving VA care to vets with financial means and no service-connected disabilities should be rescinded, allowing the whole VA system to serve only those vets with actual service-connected disabilities.

I am a veteran who volunteered, served and would likely be covered by the Category 8 ruling. I have no service-connected disabilities and thankfully am financially able to care for myself. For these reasons, I have never even considered availing myself of these benefits. My fellow citizens do not owe me VA benefits just because I served in the military.

We definitely need to apply an honest and thorough means test, resulting in benefits for only truly deserving veterans. I’m sad to say that I personally know too many people who are undeservedly riding this gravy train.

My sincere thanks to the letter-writer for shining the purifying light of common sense and fairness on the VA issue, which is just one example of our nation’s current penchant for “cradle to grave” entitlements.

Cooper Sykes


Coast needs protection

The Coastal Resources Commission and an associated panel of scientists are preparing to establish an official sea-level prediction, which will be used to draft policies to preserve coastal lands. As someone who spent many childhood holidays in the Outer Banks, I heartily support this effort and the May 15 news article detailing their work, “State begins sea-level forecast” (N&O, bit.ly/1sCBLIW)

In the wake of last month’s National Climate Assessment, it is evident that up-to-date information and strict regulations are needed to protect North Carolina’s coastal lands, which are especially susceptible to the effects of climate change. In addition, the question of climate change and its effects on sea level is clearly a scientific one that must be considered separately from any other state interests.

Rather than confounding science with economic or political issues, legislators should recognize that climate change is real, that it is causing the sea to rise and that it will be devastating for all facets of coastal life if it is left unaddressed. North Carolina’s legislature has a responsibility to confront the problem of climate change, so that future generations are able to enjoy the coast and create memories as I did.

Teresa Rosenberger



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