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Letters: school meal funding, the future of city planning and protecting biodiversity

Our weekly roundup of letters from MinnPost readers.

School lunch
MinnPost file photo by Erin Hinrichs

Fund school meals

As a Minnesota pediatrician and community member, I am thrilled to learn about the universal and permanent funding for school meals for all Minnesotan children included in Gov. Tim Walz’s latest budget proposal. Thanks to funding from federal waivers, school meals have been provided at no cost to children or families in Minnesota throughout the COVID-19 crisis but are set to expire this year.

With 1 in 6 Minnesota children facing food insecurity, meaning they are without reliable access to affordable, nutritious and plentiful food, funding of vital nutrition for children is something we should all be able to agree on. While hunger is something no Minnesotan should face, ensuring quality nutrition for school-aged children in particular is of great importance. This time in a person’s life is critical for brain development, which can only occur if a person — and their brain — are properly fed. Thanks to the massive budgetary surplus, the spending of which is at the discretion of legislators, addressing hunger in schools and providing proper nutrition for current and future generations should no longer be an issue.

I urge all Minnesota lawmakers to recognize the great opportunity to fund universal school meals for our children, and to see that this critical budgetary item is passed and made into law. As taxpayers and community members, we have a responsibility to use these funds equitably, and for the betterment of all children throughout our great state.

—Jessica Hane, MD, Minneapolis

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The future city planners

Another Minnesota Future City competition regionals were held last month. This year 21 teams participated from 9 middle schools. Roseville Area Middle School (RAMS) was one of those nine schools.

As the past engineering mentor for these middle school students, I wish more teams participated. Middle school students learn teamwork, project management (they must put together a project plan), how to express themselves both in written form (write an essay) and verbal (present and answer questions) and run a SimCity model. Teams also learn about budgeting because the total limit is $100 for all materials required to assemble the presentation. Hence, many teams end up recycling Amazon boxes and any cardboard for their presentations.

Successful Minnesota regional team goes to nationals, and I am proud to say that the Roseville team went to Washington, D.C. (virtually) last year.

Future City teams’ questions and projects are very relevant for our future city planning. In one year, the teams were asked to put together a project plan to land on the moon and use only 1 resource. In another year, the teams were asked to power the grid in a sustainable manner 100 years from now. These future city planning questions force the students to learn about city planning and understand socio-economic factors that we take for granted, such as zoning requirements for residential, commercial, and industrial places.

The cost of participating in this competition is only $25 per school. So, the school can field 1 or 100 teams for that $25 cost.

If Minnesota middle schools are interested, they should first visit the website. There is much information, including past videos of competitions, schedules, and whom to contact.

I hope more 6th, 7th, and 8th graders participate in this future city competition from Minnesota and have fun!

—Rao Konidena, Roseville

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Protect biodiversity

I am your Wisconsin neighbor and am watching as my friends in Leech Lake Reservation get bulldozed again, this time their forests on behalf of a North Carolina “Oriented Strand Board” plant named Huber, who gets afforded assurance of profit via $80 million in state subsidies and availability of timber which is in the Leech Lake Community. (See: “The latest bad idea: Huber Mill near Leech Lake Reservation”)

As the world acknowledges biodiversity is key to human survival, will people not cry out for old growth forests, for maple and other native trees, which are key to small local provisions, and even habitat for key species? Aspen cannot provide life when it is a monoculture for a toxic board industry. As a nation, we are at a turning point, and must protect the remnants which belong to people, not industrial profit.

—Jill Paulus, Hartford, Wisconsin

MinnPost welcomes original letters from readers on current topics of general interest. Interested in joining the conversation? Submit your letter to the editor. The choice of letters for publication is at the discretion of MinnPost editors; they will not be able to respond to individual inquiries about letters.