FOOD FOR THE HUNGRY
Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
The Rev. Helen Oliver inaugurated the Island Food Pantry as an outreach program of Christ United Methodist in 1981. In 27 years, it has expanded from a one-person effort to a ministry including more than 50 volunteers. We are blessed to have Joanne Maxwell, a former pantry staff member, provide our volunteers a thank-you dinner at her restaurant Chesca’s. The pantry has been supported by all the faith communities on the Island, the Vineyard Committee on Hunger, by Islanders, schools, businesses, summer visitors and organizations. It is a wonderful and effective effort of cooperation and caring. We receive no government food or funds.
Our income has increased $7,548 over last year, totaling $51,776. We spent $41,660 on food, which is $9,361 less than last year. Seven out of the past 10 years, we spent more than we have received. Our memorial fund covered the shortages. These funds were given in memory of Kevin Kennedy, Daniel Alisio and Sayan Kasem. This year, the memorial fund has been formally named The Island Food Pantry Endowment. Our goal is to maintain the original gift and use the growth in the endowment for income shortages or special projects as we did in making our entryway handicapped accessible. Hopefully, others will include the Island Food Pantry in their will so we might meet future difficult periods for our island neighbors.
In our efforts to communicate to both English and Portuguese-speaking friends, we maintain a web site, islandfoodpantry.org.
Visits to the Pantry have decreased this year from 1,776 to 1,686 visits. We assisted 360 families representing at least 705 people on the Vineyard including at least 130 children. In addition, granola bars were provided to the elementary schools for breakfast supplements.
Of the 360 families, 130 came only once or twice (last year 145) and 140 came six or more times (last year 137). Last year 241 said they were unemployed; this year 170 were without employment. A total of 114 gave no answer regarding employment. Last year we averaged 67 visits a week; this year we averaged 65 visits a week.
People can come to the pantry once every two weeks on Monday, Wednesday or Friday from 2 to 4 p.m. from mid-October to mid-April. Emergencies are responded to throughout the year when people call the pantry number.
The pantry has no paid staff. All gifts provide food for the Island community. A contribution is made to the church to help with the cost of heat, light and garbage removal. We have an advisory board and our books are audited each year. For the wonderful cooperation of the church and the community, I am sincerely thankful. Best of all, our volunteers have worked hard and kept a positive attitude. I am grateful to be a part of such a caring community.
AGAINST CAPE WIND
Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
The following letter was sent to the U.S. Department of the Interior Minerals Management Service regarding Cape Wind, and to the Cape Wind Energy Project.
I am speaking in opposition to the proposed Cape Wind project.
It is environmentally costly.
Thousands of tons of heavy equipment will be moved into the delicate environment of the Sound with huge potential for accidents and pollution, changing tidal flows and chasing out the local fishermen.
No comprehensive study has been done to weigh the amount of fossil fuel (the embedded energy) used in the manufacture, installation and maintenance of the windmills telling us when and if there will be an energy gain they propose to provide over their lifetime.
There are important questions that should be answered about the decommissioning process to insure that Nantucket Sound does not end up as a junkyard.
It is politically costly.
The estimated financial support from taxpayers is around $1.3 billion over the life of the project.
Taxpayers are giving up 25 square miles of public property to a private, profit-making company with nothing in return.
The sum of $1 billion could make a huge contribution toward supporting individual families to provide solar hot water or lower-impact energy savers, which would be a much less environmentally costly and dependable way to reduce our carbon footprint.
This environmentally questionable wind farm does not address the need to reduce our usage of fossil fuels. In fact, it probably adds to our carbon footprint by its assumption that we need ever more sources of power.
In the 1960s, where I live on the Vineyard, I built a windmill for my farm animals — ducks, geese and chickens. It made two small ponds and a stream and on a good day pumped 20,000 gallons of water. It lasted six or so years, and went through many hurricane-force winds, but the worst weather was an ice storm that threw the windmill off balance.
In comparison, 33 years ago I installed three solar collectors on my roof. They are still working today and have outlasted the roof shingles. Over those 33 years, they have cut my power consumption for hot water more than 75 per cent. This is extremely simple technology. It would have taken a lot of fossil fuels to produce that much hot water. I estimate my three solar collectors produce about two megawatt hours of electricity per year and their area is equal to three sheets of plywood on my roof.
So far as I can tell, the only green thing about the proposed wind farm is the color of the huge amount of taxpayer dollars being invested into it.
As might be expected, Cape Wind is promulgating a massive propaganda and disinformation campaign: a test tower in Nantucket Sound was put up to get local information about the wind, but it appears that test information was taken from the wind conditions in the North Sea. Also, a Cape Wind spokesman stated that the 1938 hurricane, which is the standard for damaging winds, had been downgraded to a Category 3 to reassure us that building the windmills to withstand a Category 4 hurricane — in the face of climate change which is creating more Category 5 hurricanes — would be adequate.
Let’s look at the real costs of this proposed wind farm. There will be at least 100,000 tons of metal in the whole wind farm. Add to that, transportation, construction and maintenance, large boats with potential for oil leaks, not to mention environmental impacts we won’t know until it’s too late. How many years will it take for those windmills to pay for the fossil fuel it took to create them so we actually get a positive energy flow from them? And what’s the best-case scenario for how long they’ll last compared to how much they’ll cost in fossil fuel?
This private, profit-making company is setting public policy, rather than the other way around. If the decision on the Cape Wind project is about the common good and reducing our carbon footprint, it seems that more than a billion dollars in subsidies taken from U.S. taxpayers and given to a private corporation to develop wind power on 25 square miles of public territory is not a good deal for the people who are paying for it and very questionable resource savings. If as public policy we were to dedicate a billion dollars to reducing our carbon footprint, it is most unlikely we would choose to do it this way.
We could subsidize the people who are paying, to encourage development of renewable resources and help the whole country be invested in the process.
If we want to reduce our carbon footprint, let’s give big tax incentives to people to install solar hot water heaters or some other efficient forms of renewable energy that will clearly lessen our carbon footprint. If we invested $80 million per year (the amount of the tax subsidy to Cape Wind), we could give $1,000 in subsidies to 80,000 families to promote use of energy-saving technologies. It probably takes only one or two years to pay back the environment for the manufacture of a solar hot water heater (for the glass, copper, aluminum, etc.) How long will it take us to pay back the fossil fuel debt for the existence of those windmills?
In summary, the Cape Wind project proposes to use public territory and public money for a questionable private venture, which may or may not produce electricity at a huge cost to the environment and to the people.
If we were considering subsidizing the reduction of our carbon footprint to the tune of more than $1 billion, would we ever choose such an environmentally costly private venture? Not likely. We would choose to subsidize to solve the problem more quickly and at much less environmental expense.
Kenneth Malcolm Jones
GAS TAX BENEFITS
Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
Hillary Clinton is suggesting that we lower the federal gas tax to help ease the pressure on the consumer of the high price of gasoline.
Is this a good idea? There are arguments on both sides of this issue. Some say that it won’t effectively make much difference at all. Others will say that at least it offers some help to the consumer.
I believe that both of these arguments are wrong, because I believe that the only thing that will help ease the gasoline prices is conservation. If we suddenly restrict our use of consumption of gasoline by 25 per cent to as much as 35 per cent, the price of gas and that of oil will certainly come down. Bring down demand and you will bring down prices.
But how should this be done is the big question. Should there be odd and even days, federal mandates with complicated guidelines and endless discussion of political leaders trying to jockey for their own constituents?
It’s simple the government should impose a temporary tax on gas of $2.50 to $3.50 a gallon immediately. They can use these funds for disaster relief programs or whatever benevolent cause that might be appropriate.
Institute this tax and immediately people all over the country will begin to carpool. Phones will be ringing, e-mails will be sent, text messages will be delivered all starting with the words, “I need a ride to . . . ,” and ending with the words, “Can you help me?”
If this were implemented tomorrow, we would see single car occupants would go to three and four car occupants overnight and consumption could drop 25 per cent or more almost immediately. An added bonus of this might be less wear and tear on individual vehicles which could translate into lower repair bills.
Of course, shipping, trucking and commercial vehicles might want to be exempted from this surcharge so that the prices of food, commodities and services will not be affected.
Or, we could just do nothing, and let the oil companies dictate the price up to $7 to $8 per gallon, and then we’ll be forced to conserve.