Letters to the Editor: September 10, 2014

Volunteering for health; schools feeding kids better; Napa gets a tank

Promoting Health

Thank you for publishing such an inspiring and thorough article (“Community in Transition,” Sept. 3). As the Center for Well-Being’s Promotoras de Salud/Health Promoters coordinator, I would like to acknowledge the invaluable work that this group of volunteers does for our community. Promotores and promotoras are peer health educators; that is, people who have come forward voluntarily and received nutrition education training under the guidance of dietitian Nora Bulloch at our center with the goal of going back to their communities and sharing what they’ve learned.

Alejandrina Sarmiento was one of our 127 graduates from the five-session nutrition education series done at 10 different sites countywide (Santa Rosa, Petaluma and Sonoma). This work was a partnership between the AVANCE Parent-Child programs and the Center for Well-Being under the SNAP-Ed Champions for Change (nutrition education and obesity prevention). The curricula included topics such as “Re Think Your Drink,” “Eating More Fruits and Vegetables,” “Eating less Sugar, Salt and Fat,” “Preparing Meals with MyPlate” and “Eating Well on a Budget”.

As a presenter myself, I remember Alejandrina as one of the most interested and engaging participants, asking great questions and absorbing every bit of the information we brought. It fills me with pleasure to see her featured in an article that brings hope to places where there isn’t much of it; it shows that we can change for the better, that a basic change in attitude can lead to more knowledge and, in turn, to behavior change in people and utlimately an empowered community.

Anyone interested in becoming a certified promotor(a) de salud/health promoter call 707.575.6043, ext. 18.

Santa Rosa

School Lunch

With the new school year, parents’ attention is turning to school lunches. Traditionally, the USDA had used the National School Lunch Program as a dumping ground for surplus meat and dairy commodities. Children consumed animal fat and sugary drinks to the point where one-third have become overweight or obese. Their early dietary flaws became lifelong addictions, raising their risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

In recent years, several State Legislatures asked their schools to offer daily vegetarian options, and 64 percent of U.S. school districts now do. Moreover, hundreds of schools and school districts, including Baltimore, Buffalo, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami-Dade, Oakland, Philadelphia and San Diego have implemented “Meatless Mondays.” A New York City school went all vegetarian last year. Current USDA school lunch guidelines, mandated by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, require doubling the servings of fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, less sodium and fat, and a meat-free breakfast. The challenge is to get students to eat the healthier foods.

Parents should work with school cafeteria managers to encourage consumption of healthy foods.
Detailed guidance is available at
www.schoolnutrition.org/schoolmeals, www.fns.usda.gov/cnd, www.pcrm.org/health/healthy-school-lunches and www.vrg.org/family.

Santa Rosa

Missing Tanks

Unfortunately, you seem to have missed Napa’s acquisition of an MRAP valued at $733,000 (“Spoils of War,” Aug. 27). I hope the rest of the math is right, because this throws serious doubt on the article at face value. Also, a vet who specialized in the aquisition and upkeep of these vehicles in Afghanistan called into a talk show on NPR and said that in his experience these vehicles have no purpose outside of a theater of war—they are designed not for active shooter operations, but for IEDs and mines. He also had experience in the acquisition and upkeep of standard law enforcement vehicles.

Via online

Tom Gogola responds: Thanks for your note and concerns about the piece. The spreadsheet database I was working from, which was dated May 2014, did not include any mention of the mine-resistant vehicle in Napa. 

Since our story came out, I’ve gotten a response to a public records request from the California State Office of Emergency Services that has a more updated list of acquirements under the Department of Defense 1033 plan. The updated, June 2014 list includes the MRAP vehicle as a standalone item that the city of Napa requested and received from the Department of Defense in March. The item is the only one listed on the OES database acquired by the Napa.

The state OES database comes with a cautionary note about the spreadsheets that should have been further amplified in my original piece. These databases are snapshots of what is in a municipalities’ possession at a given point of time. As such, notes OES, the spreadsheet “may not reflect more recent transactions within the . . . dynamically changing database.”  

We regret the omission of the Napa MRAP from the original story.

Write to us at [email protected].