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Out of the desert and eating healthier

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Out of the desert and eating healthier

A food desert, by USDA definition, is a census tract where at least 33 percent of its low-income residents live more than a mile from a supermarket stocking healthy food choices. Allen County, like many urban areas, has plenty of food deserts. Parkview Health and the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation are teaming up to help residents in one of those areas.

The new HEAL program – Healthy Eating and Active Lifestyle – will focus on residents at the Fort Wayne Housing Authority’s McCormick Place Apartments. The residents are primarily Burmese, Hispanic and black, with an average income of just more than $8,100 a year for a family of four.

The pilot project, supported with $300,000 in grants, is aimed at improving the amount and quality of healthy food; removing barriers from accessing healthy foods, including transportation, high costs and knowledge about the foods; helping improve awareness of and access to physical activities; and providing access to quality health education.

HEAL looks like a good start to promoting healthier lifestyles in an area much in need of assistance.

There is no right answer

A long and challenging winter has created headaches public school officials have never before faced. The solutions the four Allen County school districts have settled on for making up hours lost to delays and cancellations represent the best of a bad situation.

For Fort Wayne Community Schools, an hour added to the end of each school day for five weeks will allow students to finish by June 6, assuming no more cancellations. East Allen and Northwest Allen county schools also will add time to their school days. Southwest Allen, where more than 90 percent of the students have Internet access at home, will require online lessons to be completed after school or on weekends.

Complaints, both public and private, have followed the districts’ announcements. It’s hard to imagine a solution that would please everyone – even within one household. Weekend make-up days would disrupt extracurricular activities and part-time jobs, along with family events. Extending the school year into the summer would create havoc for jobs, summer study, travel and more.

Parents still unhappy with the revised plans should be advised that the requirement to make up missed hours comes from the state – school officials are dutifully following the law.

Take it up with your elected representatives if the requirement is unacceptable.

A new way of assessing our threats

Chuck Hagel, the defense secretary, elicited a lot of big headlines when he proposed a new fighting force beginning in 2015.

There was news in what Hagel proposed, but maybe not what people think. It is almost certain that the exact numbers he threw out will not be the final ones. Some liberals argue that his proposed number is larger than what the Defense Department would get under the sequester.

As the Wall Street Journal pointed out, “the Pentagon road map (is) sure to face fierce resistance from lawmakers in both parties.” That may be an understatement.

Yes, Hagel wants to increase the size of special operations forces by 3,000, or nearly 6 percent. But he also wants to cut the active-duty military by 13 percent and reserves by 5 percent. His budget would reduce big buildups and focus more on cyberthreats and target terrorist threats in Africa.

The big news here is that Hagel is the defense secretary, and he is proposing substantial cuts in spending on and changes in emphasis of the U.S. military. It will be the first military budget in years that does not assume the country is on a war footing. And that is something to think about and probably be grateful for.

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