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Thanks to the heroes among school lunch staffs

It has been over a year since the COVID pandemic hit and the schools in our state had to instantly pivot from in-person to virtual learning.

Thousands of children across Tennessee were in danger of losing access to the nutrition they rely on from school meals. Without giving it a second thought, our school nutrition staff immediately stepped up, working day and night to figure out new systems of getting meals to students — by meal drive-thru, pick-up, or drop-off, they made it happen.

Due to the crisis, even more families in our community are facing financial strain. In 2021, an alarming 1 in 6 kids could face hunger because of the pandemic. Yet, our school nutrition staff have been there, working tirelessly through the summer, through weekends, through holidays, to make sure kids in our state get the nutrition they need.

On May 7th, School Lunch Hero Day, and every day, we want to say thank you to all the school nutrition staff across our state. You help guarantee kids are healthy and ready to learn and provide a constant in these challenging times. Your love and dedication for what you do and those you serve are noteworthy and extraordinary.

Our gratitude cannot be overstated!

Marissa Spady

No Kid Hungry Tennessee

 

Black votes matter

In 1964 I joined a group of students from Johnson C. Smith to march for voting rights in Charlotte, North Carolina. The march was organized by a Davidson College senior from Nashville, Tennessee. In 1967, I returned to Johnson C. Smith to hear Dr. King speak.

Years later when I asked David Habersham, former reporter for the Nashville Tennessean, why legislators in the 1950's did not pass a bill allowing blacks to vote after World War II, he looked up from signing his book and said: "Boss Crump."

As legislatures across the country enact laws to suppress voting, history rhymes. Boss Trump's Big Lie reinforces passion for creating obstructions at the polls. What is a sacred civic right, now is prostituted to fear of losing white power in the name of election integrity and security.

As voting restrictions become state law based on the lie of a stolen election, what happens to the self-evident truths that all people are created equal? Does state law trump natural law?

While the framers tilled words for the Republic, black bodies tilled the soil and made bricks. All the people made this nation. Check the race of veterans who served this nation.

Kemmer Anderson

 

Tennesseans need benefit of TANF funds

Last year, as families across Tennessee were hungry and homeless due to COVID-19, Gov. Bill Lee was sitting on $741 million in surplus Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds meant to help Tennessee's working poor. Despite pleas for him to release this money for its intended use, Gov. Lee refused to tap into what he'd rebranded a "rainy day" fund. If a pandemic that kills more than half a million Americans and thrusts millions more into poverty doesn't constitute a "rainy day," what does?

While the federal government and a recovering economy are finally providing relief, plenty of Tennesseans are still struggling. Yet Lee (with the blessings of the Tennessee General Assembly) plans to award our TANF funds to some of his favorite religious organizations, including $3 million to the Human Coalition, a Texas-based anti-abortion group, and $1.2 million to Her Song, a ministry of the Florida-based Tim Tebow Foundation.

Whether these organizations do good work is irrelevant. Tax money intended to help economically struggling Tennesseans should not be diverted to faith-based organizations whose work is, at best, tangential to that mission. It certainly shouldn't leave Tennessee.

This is a clear abuse of stewardship of public funds.

Allison Reilly Gorman

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