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Blind commission puts people to work

Letters to the editor
by: Christopher Onstott Gary Jackson, who is visually impaired, bags groceries at his Portland Building concession stand. The Oregon Commission for the Blind is given preference to run such concessions, under a longstanding program designed to provide jobs and training to blind people. Public health reformers say the commission is resisting efforts to provide healthy snacks.

I am writing in response to your recent article, 'Battle for healthy snacks' (May 26), regarding the Oregon Commission for the Blind.

This story immediately caught my eye because of the man featured in the front-page photo, Gary 'Big Jack' Jackson. Big Jack and I attend the same church, and he is one of my favorite people there.

However, I was incredibly disappointed with the text and tone of the article. I would not attempt to speak for Big Jack here, but I will say that he is an educated, intelligent man who once had good health and a successful career. When an illness took his eyesight, he had to make drastic changes in his life.

His training and assistance from the Oregon Commission for the Blind in setting up that business has enabled him to independently get out into the working world each day. In turn, he uses his accessibility there and his incredibly positive spirit to mentor many of the people he meets.

Why would you use his photo and then not share his views about the issues covered in the article?

I put this question to your readers: If you were suddenly struck with the same disability and an article such as this one results in the Oregon Commission for the Blind shutting it's doors, where will you go to learn how to go out into the world on your own, handle your money, use a computer and phone, etc.?

Karen Crichton

North Portland

People don't want 'healthy' snacks

I know they don't teach this in college, but the purpose of business is to make a profit - not sell products people don't want - regardless of what the social engineers would have you believe ('Battle for healthy snacks', May 26).

I suppose the Legislature will need to pass more laws to prevent people from buying what they want. Oh wait. They have already done that.

Geoff Rode

Southeast Portland

Children need to learn respect

I don't think anyone can point a finger and say this is where it started, but I have an idea: Budgets have been cut to the bone, now what's left? Not much.

I don't think the best interests of the students are being looked at here ('Despite law, junk food still reigns',June 2). When you cut, cut, cut, and leave nothing to interest the kids to attend school, what else is there left? Nothing but dropouts.

When you graduate less than 60 percent of your students, something is very wrong. It's high time the administration wakes up and sees it before it's too late. Save money. Get more federal funding to bring back music, arts, drama. Classes that stimulate the mind and grow (kids) into intellectual individuals.

Take away the iPods, mp3s, cell phones, the feeling of entitlement attitude. Serve nutritious foods - NO vending machines. The operative words here are focus and education.

How can we expect teachers to teach when the students are not focused on learning? When children start learning respect, and self-respect, the fists and guns will disappear. Then just maybe pep assemblies and Friday night school pride may mean something again. Unless the administration decides to do the right thing, the only thing life is complete failure of the system.

What do you want for your children?

Bruce Giggers

Clackamas

Story didn't represent blind

I find it very curious that Mr. Law did not interview one single blind person involved in the program ('Battle for healthy snacks,' May 26). Why not, I wonder?

I know a few of the vendors in question. They do offer healthier options in their machines - sometimes by request, and sometimes because of arm-twisting. In many cases, the food expires, unsold, representing both a loss of inventory due to spoilage and a loss in sales because that slot in the machine is taken up by snack items that customers find unappealing.

In other, particularly large sites, it seems to me that spending money on inventory that nobody is going to buy is probably bad for business. I'm neither a vendor, a businessman, nor anyone involved in planning these things, but for some reason Mr. Law decided not to report on any of that. What is the agenda here?

Joseph Carter

Southwest Portland

Healthy snack vendors often blocked

There are now small healthy vending machine companies run by people who care about these things, but they are having a hard time gaining contracts because the existing junk-food vendors (mostly large companies) insist that their profit margins and kickback will be much higher ('Battle for healthy snacks,' May 26).

Organizations feel pressured into choosing healthier food and less money, or junk food and more money. The thing is, especially in Oregon and especially in state offices, people actually care about what they eat. They might even buy more products for more money from vending machines if there was actually food in there. I know I would.

The state of Oregon and the Oregon Commission for the Blind would do well to support these local, small businesses too. Organizations have to decide to take the risk in support of healthier employees.

Melissa Haendel

Brownsville

Cafeteria drives students off-campus

I went to Franklin and Benson high schools in the early 1970s, and I always ate off-campus. The cafeterias were crowded, and the food wasn't very good. The only way you can force people to eat what you want them to is to have food police in every school and not allow anyone to leave the campus ('Despite law, junk food still reigns' June 2).

Here comes another generation of young people who will be cynical about politics and politicians and who probably won't vote. I can't say that I blame them when I see all the idiots from both major parties that my generation has voted into every level of government.

I'm ashamed of the future we are going to leave them.

Zeke Rogers

Southeast Portland

County spends funds to shame fat people

So Multnomah County wanted to spend our tax dollars to shame people who are overweight from eating sugar ('County's sugar fight not a blockbuster,' June 23). How nice that they have their act together so well that they can start telling others how to live their lives.

They seem to feel that every problem that people who are overweight are (from) eating too much sugar. Maybe they are unaware that there are medical conditions that can and do contribute to weight problems.

It is so nice to know that if I am ever incapable of making decisions on my own life, that Multnomah County is able to step in and do it for me. Wait a minute… no, it's not!

I am so glad that I live in Marion County.

Bill Haskell

Woodburn

Keep government out of sack lunches

What's next? Will you do what some schools in Chicago do and monitor what the kids bring in sack lunches from home ('Despite law, junk food still reigns,' June 2)?

If I was a kid, I'd bring a huge cooler with my 'lunch,' filled with soda, snacks and candy bars that I'd sell for a profit to my buddies.

Get a clue, the dang government doesn't need to be - heck, it doesn't belong - in every aspect of our lives. What's next? Are we going to have people brush their teeth for two minutes and have the tooth brush police there to time it?

This reminds me of a clip from the Woody Allen movie 'Bananas,' where a new dictator has gained power and makes the statement, 'Underwear will be changed every two hours! Underwear will be worn on the outside of your clothing so we can check.'

Yup, our government, our nanny state, has indeed gone bananas.

Michael C. Wagoner

Hillsboro