Letters for the Week of February 15, 2012 

Readers sound off on Occupy Oakland, hunger, and Jin Lia.

Page 3 of 3

The idiocy of Occupy Oakland's "diversity of tactics" stance is that it ultimately excludes anyone unwilling to associate themselves with a movement that tacitly endorses vandalism and other forms of violence. And, in Oakland, that is the 99 Percent.

Ken Katz, Oakland

"State of Hunger," Feature, 2/1

Praise from Portland

As a visitor from Portland and a one-time anti-hunger activist in New York City, I would like to say how much I appreciated this article. Food access and hunger are truly nation-wide problems, and it is balanced, concise reporting like this that helps the "food secure" understand that no one wants to be on food stamps. Thank you for making a great trip to the Bay Area even better.

Leo Fraser, Portland

Weighty Issue, Worthy Cause

How wonderful to see such an expansive article on the complicated network of nonprofit and government aid for our neighbors struggling with hunger. Thank you for bringing attention to this issue during times of unprecedented need.

Alameda County Community Food Bank provides food to one in six Alameda County residents. For 26 years we've strived to ensure our neighbors don't need to worry about where their next meal will come from. But hunger is a symptom of poverty — a problem too vast for nonprofits to solve alone.

A recession deeper and longer than we've ever seen, and relentless cuts to safety-net programs, have forced us to expand our services. Thanks to our generous community, we have been able to keep up with a need for food that we've seen double since this recession began.

Often, we're the safety net for people the government safety net has failed. We provide hot meals and nutritious bags of groceries through 275 partner agencies including soup kitchens and food pantries — from Oakland to Livermore, Berkeley to Fremont. We operate an emergency food helpline that in 2011 helped more than 40,000 families. And our CalFresh (food stamps) outreach team helps people navigate the complicated process of applying for, and retaining, their benefits.

Alameda County Community Food Bank is also one of only a handful of food banks nationwide with a robust advocacy team — doing everything from rallies on the steps of the capitol in Sacramento to meetings in the White House. Sasha Abramsky writes about the battle to pass AB 6 (which would end fingerprinting for food stamp applicants), a fight our advocates waged for a decade.

Our work is vital to supporting our mission to alleviate hunger. When families living paycheck-to-paycheck have to make cuts, they can't just stop paying rent, or for gas or the electric bill. The only place to cut is food.

It's pennywise and pound-foolish to sacrifice human beings to pay off deficits. As Mr. Abramsky writes, people who use our services defy all stereotypes. Two-thirds of our clients are children and seniors. A growing number of households have at least one working adult. Hungry children and adults reside in every corner of our county.

We have much to celebrate with the passage of AB 6, but that was just the beginning. We have all been asked to sacrifice, but the pain has not been shared. People who can least afford it are being asked to make do with not only less, but oftentimes with nothing.

Together, we can stop cuts, and expand access to vital nutrition programs. We can work to ensure that no one goes hungry.

Suzan Bateson Executive Director, Alameda County Community Food Bank

"How I Got Arrested at Occupy Oakland," News, 2/1

A Dissertation Topic Waiting to Happen

Wow. There is so much about this to comment on that one easily could — and probably should — write a proposal for a federal grant to conduct a proper "retrospective and follow-up prospective study" on the issues, dependent and independent variables, blah, blah.

Instead of vandalizing public property, the 99 Percent should think about being responsible: Get smart, write a manifesto, conduct social media forums, understand what the real issues are and peacefully attempt to get the message out there. Their time would be better spent building community food gardens; petitioning for fruits and veggies; creating a community barter system if they don't have monies and jobs; building a legitimate commune through pooled assets asking for a bus or two through social media and live in it together. It is when people fail to see alternatives they are defeated.

Zoe Robinette, Oakland

"Neutered Spice," Food, 1/25

A Jin Lia Junkie

I eat here quite regularly and love everything on the menu. The reviewer is correct in that the food is not flashy ... it is also not greasy or too heavy (never had a "beef and broccoli hangover" here). The service is great. Food served relatively quick. Nice without being pretentious. Good for families or casual night out, less so for date night.

Edward Cervantes, Oakland


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