David Callahan's April 22 commentary "Hard times hit charities, too" makes a reasonable effort to point out that the same tough economic times that impact tax revenues also impact philanthropic giving.
He goes astray, however, in asserting that the entrepreneurial social ventures of the 1990s are unstable because of their reliance on private-sector support. In fact, exactly the opposite seems to be true: Nonprofits that have better diversified their funding through private support are more likely to have achieved stability than organizations that are overly dependent on government sources.
We find it particularly odd that he points to Teach For America as an example. Despite the economic downturn, our revenue base grew by nearly 40 percent last year, and this year our revenue will likely grow by an additional 35 percent.
We have seen that the best antidote to a rough economy is actually growth and diversification in the private sector.
Because of this philosophy, our teacher corps this fall will be three times as large as it was when our idealism launched it more than a decade ago.
Founder and President, Teach For America
Regarding the April 22 article "A shrinking global footprint for US forces": A change in the US footprint overseas would give the world a chance for peace if it shrank to a controllable size and shifted back to America. In the past, the US has dealt with sovereign nations that do not bend to its will with covert actions. Now, we no longer try to conceal our control, but preemptively and unilaterally subdue any state that does not conform to our will. Our footprint will shift only when American foreign policy changes and our military is placed in a more strategic position.
Cape May, N.J.
Your April 15 article "Potato chips, cola, and sweets, oh my!" makes an important point about school meals: With enough funds schools can offer sandwiches on freshly baked semolina bread with organic cheddar cheese and homemade tomato soup, along with the education and support needed to help children choose such lunches.
Over the past 10 years, an increasing number of schools are offering healthy and nutritious school meals: Salad and sandwich bars are popular, and most schools use low-fat cooking techniques and substitute part vegetable protein in order to offer healthy choices.
The 2001 School Nutrition Dietary Assessment-II conducted by the CDC found that in 1999, students in 91 percent of secondary schools and 82 percent of elementary schools had the opportunity to select lunches consistent with dietary standards for fat and saturated fat. It also found roughly two-thirds of all lunch menus offer more than the two fruit and vegetable choices required by USDA regulations.
Taking the nutritional content of school meals to the next level will require an increase in financial support. A current General Accounting Office study indicates that the cost to produce a school lunch exceeds the reimbursement rate of $2.14 for free meals.
School nutrition professionals will continue to actively seek opportunities to help address the childhood-obesity epidemic. They can do more as demonstrated by the example in your article - if adequate funding is provided and there is constructive collaboration among school administrators, educators, parents, and the school nutrition staff.
Gaye Lynn MacDonald
President, American School Food Service Association
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