A significant need

Those people should get a job — that’s the snarky comment that inevitably surfaces any time the topics of poverty and government assistance come up.

If only it were that simple.

Last week the Clarion reported on the challenges facing a large number of Kenai Peninsula residents who will see their federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, more commonly known as food stamps, cut by about 5 percent. And as much as some would like us to think the worst of people who receive some form of public assistance, the truth of the matter is that food insecurity is a much more complex and serious issue affecting our community.

Statistics show more than 13 percent of Kenai Peninsula residents face some form of food insecurity. Those affected range from young to old, and the reasons that the food budget may come up short can be just as varied, from unexpected expenses to changes in employment or family circumstances. On the Kenai Peninsula, more than 5,000 people receive help through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

What do those numbers mean? Let’s start with this: there are a significant number of “those people,” and they are members of our community. They are family, friends and neighbors. Our kids go to school together. We shop at the same grocery stores, attend the same churches.

There very well may be a few people milking the system, but the reality is that the issue of hunger on the Kenai is significant. It doesn’t just affect “those people”; in one way or another, it touches all of us. There is a need, and it is much bigger than many of us realize or are willing to admit.

More

What others say: Obama took right tack on Cuba

There’s no solution to the half-century old Cuba problem that will satisfy everyone, but we strongly believe President Obama made the right decision to end the troubled “wet foot, dry foot” policy.

Read more

What others say: Obama’s legacy a mixed one

President Barack Obama leaves office Friday after eight years as the most consequential Democrat to occupy the White House since Lyndon Johnson. And unlike that Texan, whose presidency was born in tragedy and ended in failure, Obama will not have the ghost of the Vietnam War haunting his days and eating his conscience as LBJ did all the remaining days of his life.

Read more

Op-ed: Trump won the news conference

Donald Trump should do press conferences more often. Not for the country’s sake, certainly not for the media’s sake, but for his. He really shouldn’t have waited 167-plus days to hold one, because the man gives great sound bite. Although I’ve participated in probably thousands of these staged encounters as a reporter, they’re not my favorite way of getting news — you almost never get any. The guy at the podium controls the proceeding. He can get his message out with little challenge from the assembled journalists who are limited to a question and a follow-up, maybe. Politicians can bob and weave through that without any of us landing a blow. And that’s our job: to penetrate the canned responses to their version of the controversy du jour and get at whatever truth they are hiding. Besides, Trump — who uses contempt for the media as a weapon, his preferred way to discredit reporting that displeases him —has a wonderful forum to do that. At the very least he should hold these confrontations as a supplement to his Twitter tirades. And frequently. It’s his opportunity to hold the media hostage as they cover live his rain of abuse on them.

Read more

Good luck in Juneau

The 30th Alaska Legislature gavels in on Tuesday, and we’d like to take a moment to wish our Kenai Peninsula legislators good luck over the coming months in Juneau.

Read more