As Chicago’s public school students return to school, let’s take a moment to remember that our schools nourish both minds and bodies. All CPS students are eligible to receive free meals at school, which is critical for them to meet their great potential. Unfortunately, for some children these are the only meals they can rely on. In Chicago’s poorest communities, over half of households are food insecure. We must protect benefits that help children and families eat.

More than 40 million people in this country rely on SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) to put food on the table. Almost 2/3 of SNAP recipients are children, elderly, or disabled. The program is typically a temporary form of support — the average length of use is 8-10 months — for people who are in between jobs or not earning enough. But recently, the House of Representatives passed a farm bill that would take SNAP away from people struggling to find work.

Fortunately, the Senate’s farm bill is bipartisan and protects SNAP. I urge lawmakers in both the House and Senate to get behind a final farm bill that’s bipartisan and ensures all Americans have enough to eat.

I am hopeful that senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth will continue to do everything in their power to protect our nation’s most vulnerable citizens from going hungry. I hope that all of our representatives in the Chicagoland area — Democrat and Republican — will do the same.

Ashley S. Castro, Lake View

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Justified deadly force?

The Laquan McDonald case, and other cases involving the use of deadly force by the police, highlight a nationwide problem: When is it justified for a police officer to use deadly force in confronting a suspect? The officer has a choice in these situations. When using his firearm, is it his desire to shoot to kill or to shoot to disarm and disable the suspect?

In most of these controversial police shootings, it seems as though deadly force was used when shooting to disable the suspect should have been the aim. This is especially so when the officer’s life was not threatened. Shooting someone multiple times indicates a desire to kill.

Even though officers are often faced with making split-second decisions, it is assumed that police officers undergo vigorous training in the use of firearms on a regular basis and should be keenly aware that to disable a suspect, you do not shoot someone in the back, the head or the upper body but instead aim for the lower part of the torso.

Perhaps more firearms training and time on the firing range is called for to improve their aim and their decision-making ability.

Ned L. McCray, Tinley Park

NFL, Kaepernick and Reid

I couldn’t agree more with Jesse Jackson’s assessment of the NFL’s shabby treatment of Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid.

There are two arguments I routinely hear from those opposed to Kaepernick and Reid’s protests. The first is that they are disrespecting the flag. But isn’t it antithetical to what the flag represents if one is compelled to stand because of threats and intimidation? As the U.S. Supreme Court opined in 1943, “Words uttered under coercion are proof of loyalty to nothing but self-interest.” Trump’s exploitation of the anthem controversy for distraction and cheap political gain continues to confirm the veracity of this statement.

The second argument is that the NFL isn’t racist because the majority of its players are African-American. But isn’t this like saying “Jim Crow” laws weren’t racist because the majority of people affected by them were African-American? Institutional racism, which the predominantly white NFL owners are an exemplar of, demands that the focus be on those who control the institutions, not on those who are controlled by them.

David R. Hoffman, South Bend, Indiana

Health care plan              

Thank you for publishing  “15 ways Democrats can lose the November elections” (Thursday, August 30) by Ralph Nader. Excellent!

I’m especially sad that the Democratic Party is not working for the affordable health plan that most Americans have said  — time and time again — we want:  Medicare for All. Without this plan, many thousands more of us will suffer bankruptcies and untimely deaths.

Michael Brennan, West Ridge