Urge senators to fully fund food program for seniors
The House of Representatives recently passed a spending bill that would cut about $60 billion over the next seven months, including $20 million from the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), which provides low-income seniors with a nutritious monthly food basket.
One in 10 seniors nationwide is at risk of hunger, including many in our state, and the number of people struggling with hunger continues to rise as our economy is slow to recover.
God's Pantry Food Bank provides CSFP food packages to 9,400 seniors each month; more people qualify than we have funding to serve.
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The proposed cut will not only prevent us from adding participants, some of the seniors could be kicked off of the program.
This is a small part of a $3.5 trillion federal budget, but the monthly food package makes a real difference in the lives of thousands of our most vulnerable seniors.
It provides a $50 monthly value to participants but only costs the government around $20 — a highly efficient use of federal dollars.
Many seniors already are choosing between food and other basic needs. According to a national study, 30 percent of client households with seniors had to choose between food and medical care, and 35 percent had to choose between food and paying utilities.
The Senate is expected to introduce its FY 2011 spending plan this week. Sen. Mitch McConnell serves on the Appropriations Committee and has a say in whether CSFP gets cut.
Congress should pass a bill that addresses the budget deficit while protecting programs for low-income people.
Marian F. Guinn
CEO, God's Pantry Food BankLexington
Worth the inconvenience
When the state's monitoring system for pseudoephedrine first was put into place, I was annoyed. Five members of my family have allergies. I resented jumping through hoops to purchase a legal medicine.
Then, I began to read the paper more closely. If getting a prescription for this medicine will help protect the environment from toxic substances produced in meth labs, please inconvenience me.
If it means fewer people can get their hands on meth because it is no longer made locally and cheaply, please inconvenience me.
If it means police officers are walking into fewer dangerous and toxic meth labs to protect me and my family, please inconvenience me.
And most importantly, if just one small child's life can be saved by making pseudoephedrine a prescription drug, please, please inconvenience me. The lives of others are worth much more than my own convenience.
Regina Wink Swinford
Dealing with Alzheimer's
Thanks to Deborah D. Danner of the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging for the enlightening Feb. 20 column on the frightening reality of the current Alzheimer's epidemic.
More than 80,000 Kentucky families are affected by the disease. The Alzheimer's Association calculates that there are between 220,000 and 640,000 people with early-onset Alzheimer's or related dementia in the United States today.
There is no cure, and we're all frightened. But there is hope.
I'm hopeful we are going to see significant changes in the next few years, changes that would help Alzheimer's become a manageable disease and that will allow the Alzheimer's Association to focus on prevention and early intervention.
One of the most important things you can do for yourself and for your family is to know the 10 early warning signs of this disease. Misplacing things and being unable to retrace your steps, decreased or poor judgment and changes in mood or personality are just a few. For the complete list and more information, visit www.alz.org/10signs.
Nobody wants this disease, and we must find a cure. Toward that end, we need people to be willing to talk about it and share their experiences. More people in the early stages are beginning to stand up and say, "I have this disease and this is how it's impacting me." This transparency is going to be crucial as we move toward a cure.
If you would like to help by telling your story, please call, write or visit www.alz.org/kyin.
President and CEO,Greater Kentucky & Southern Indiana Chapter of the Alzheimer's AssociationLouisville
UK Hoops delights
Friends in Santa Barbara lost a night's sleep so I could catch an early-morning plane to make it back to Lexington to the University of Kentucky's women's basketball game against Tennessee. Our team's near-win kept me on my feet and wide awake.
The women's final game at home this past Thursday, celebrated the leadership of departing seniors Victoria Dunlap and Carly Morrow.
That night they, along with other UK stars, aligned perfectly with my birth date for the best present ever.
Fans hope Dunlap goes pro so that we can follow her successes there. She has taught us firsthand what the natural athleticism, skill and grace of a champion looks like.
It should be noted for future reference that while playing at Vanderbilt, UK's freshmen women held their own against tough opposition as UK's top experienced players sat on the sideline with foul trouble. Fans of UK women's basketball obviously have something to look forward to next season as we proudly, fondly and firmly hold on to the powerful memories of the current team's reach for greatness.
The joy, excitement, near-heart attacks,and family fun that UK women's basketball brings to 6,000 to 7,000 fans in Memorial Hall each season is anticipated and appreciated by all of us.
They offer the best seats for the buck in top competitive college sport.
Sincere thanks to the UK women's basketball team members, Coach Matthew Mitchell and the coaching staff.
UK worthy of support
I just can't let a Feb. 20 letter go unanswered. Academics and athletics are two separate issues at the University of Kentucky. Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart is paid by the Athletics Association, whose revenues are ticket sales. Gifts to the university go to where the donor directs them.
As a grateful alumnus who had a wonderful career as a result of my education at UK, I felt right about giving back to the university, especially to the College of Engineering where I studied. My gifts benefited students there, and I know how hard Dean Thomas W. Lester has worked to improve the school.
If the letter writer is upset about the AD's salary, boycott the football and basketball games. If he truly cared about UK priorities, he would donate to those programs he thinks are important and join the UK Alumni Association and make his views known there.
Medical turf fights
Optometrists probably want to do surgery because Medicare payments do not cover the cost of checking people's eyes all day long. A conscientious optometrist would have to be pretty desperate to want to cut on someone's eyes without proper surgical training. Pity the patients.
The ophthalmologists could use a history lesson. Like the optometrists today, some of them once checked into a Holiday Inn for a weekend to learn cosmetic eyelid surgery.
They checked out as "oculoplastic surgeons." Some of these weekend warrior plastic surgeons were not taught that droopy eyelids can sometimes be caused solely by droopy brows. Pity the patients.
Someday, the opticians will buy legislation to permit them to do what the optometrists are doing. If the opticians are smart, they can get the whole thing locked up in a week without the optometrists even knowing about it. Pity the optometrists.
Chiropractors pay politicians to mandate chiropractic coverage by insurance companies. Some chiropractors treat bed wetting.
Podiatrists want to do ankle surgery. Physician assistants want to be doctors without benefit of medical school.
Nurse practitioners want to prescribe narcotics. Midwives want to do circumcisions. Non-psychiatrists prescribe more psychotropic drugs than psychiatrists.
We have two options. We can let anybody do what they want to anybody else and let the patient beware. Or we can have a serious discussion about scope of practice for all health care professionals in this state. An optometrist might ask: "Better one or better two?"
Cameron S. Schaeffer, M.D.
Not just unions' fault
I have been following the protest going on in Wisconsin with interest. I have been on both sides: for 17 years as a union steward and as a manager in retail sales. Both sides have good and bad points.
The articles and remarks I have seen and heard on the Internet and in the papers have been overwhelming against unions. The remarks mainly go along the line that the wages and benefits are too much for union workers. I have heard Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and others go against union workers forever, saying they make too much money.
I have yet to see or hear anything about the CEOs of large corporations receiving multimillions in salaries and stock options per year.
There are problems with large dollars that some union workers receive — the auto workers for example.
But if you are going to go after union workers for large salaries and benefits, you have to put upper management in the same boat.
I always wondered how the donkey became the symbol of the Democratic Party. After reading that the Wisconsin Democratic legislators had fled out of Madison so they didn't have to vote on a bill they didn't agree with, I wonder no more.
Pols with sponsor patches
I have read many letters recently about what we all should do about the state of our country: Be a Democrat; be a Republican, be a tea partier, an independent, and on and on.
The fact is, the problem is not with the letter writers and voters but with the ones we support. They seem to be totally concerned about themselves. We need to be better informed about who and what they are really working for.
I would like to propose a new law for the new year. It would be The TUFF Act of 2011, which would stand for Truthful Uniforms For Freedom. The law would require that all of Congress (both houses, all 535 members) while in session, wear a uniform exactly like the drivers of NASCAR. We could then readily tell who their corporate sponsors are.
In other words, we would know who they're actually working for. I urge you to call or e-mail your favorite congress member to support this idea. If they do, they can then say they're a TUFF Act to follow.
If, on the other hand, they're not interested, it may be time to look for another hero.