Lin-Manuel Miranda is Penning a 'Love Letter to Puerto Rico' to Help the Relief Effort

Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Like so many other Americans, Lin-Manuel Miranda is pained to see the devastation in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. More than a week after the storm hit, millions of the island’s residents are still without power—a situation that some officials estimate could take six months to rectify. So Miranda, whose parents moved from Puerto Rico to New York, is using his voice to make a difference. On October 6 he’ll release a charity single to help raise money so that the U.S. territory can begin the process of rebuilding. 

"It's a love letter to Puerto Rico," Miranda told CNN of the unnamed song. "I had the idea at 3 in the morning … The initial demo was me singing in a bathroom." We can only assume that the final version will be a bit more polished, particularly as it will feature a number of other celebrity artists (and we’re not exactly sure how many people Miranda can fit in his bathroom).

"[I] called every Puerto Rican I know," Miranda said about enlisting additional artists to assist him in the effort. "To every artist, I've said, 'Can you help out on this song?' And they said yes. Without even hearing the song, everyone's joined in.”

Though he hopes the single will help the island’s recovery efforts, Miranda says that it will take more than the generosity of individual citizens to make Puerto Rico whole again. "Only the federal government has the resources, as we have seen in every hurricane or natural disaster [that] has hit us here in the mainland," he said. “Only the federal government has the resources to really begin the rebuilding process.” 

Still, Miranda knows how the news cycle works. He wants to be sure that we keep talking about the situation in Puerto Rico and doing what we can to help. "I know there's a tendency for fatigue because we've just been through two hurricanes,” he said. “And we can't be fatigued when it comes to our fellow Americans.” 

"We are doing what Hamilton did, we're jumping up and down and screaming for support," he added. "Please don't stop telling our story."

[h/t: CNN]

Foster Families Can Shop for Free Clothing at This Western New York Charity

iStock.com/goodmoments
iStock.com/goodmoments

There are nearly 438,000 children in the U.S. foster care system, and many of them come to their foster families needing clothes and shoes. Erin Richeal, Cheryl Flick, and Kara Brody, three foster parents from western New York, have gotten together to start a free clothing bank dedicated to providing foster kids with the wardrobe staples they need, WGRZ reports.

Foster Love Closet is a free clothing bank located in the Town Line Lutheran Church in Alden, New York, and it's now collecting donations. Open two days a week, the foster kid charity allows foster families to pick up a week's worth of kids' clothing at a time. Items like shirts and pants, as well as extra necessities like coats, socks, shoes, underwear, and pajamas, are set up in the charity's 2000-square-foot space. All socks and underwear are brand new, and any other items are either new or gently used.

There's something for foster kids of all ages, from infants to older teens. Foster parents with valid placement papers and a photo ID are welcome to pick up clothes for their foster kids four times a year, or whenever a new child moves into their home. Families are encouraged to bring their foster kids along to "shop" for the free clothes.

If you're looking to contribute to the Foster Love Closet's inventory, the center is now accepting clothes free of rips, holes, and stains that are appropriate for the spring and summer months. You can also support them by purchasing something off their Amazon wishlist.

[h/t WGRZ]

FYI: The FDA Has Ceased Its Food Inspections

istock.com/Olivier Le Moal
istock.com/Olivier Le Moal

It may be safe to eat romaine lettuce again, but The Hill is reporting that the FDA is suspending "most food inspections" amid the current partial government shutdown.

As the government shutdown rounds out its third week, the effects have begun to take a toll on both minor and major scales. Government workers are missing paychecks, affordable housing contracts are expiring, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is not able to cover all of its usual duties. According to the official FDA website, around 55 percent of their $5.4 billion budget comes directly from federal funding, with the other 45 percent coming from industry user fees.

With fewer resources for protecting the nation's food supply, FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb has had to delegate most workers to investigate "high risk facilities," such as those that produce seafood or cheese.

In 2018, nearly a dozen different products were cited for salmonella contamination, including raw turkey, pre-cut melon, and even Honey Smacks cereal. The FDA also warned of a possible salmonella outbreak from eggs last May.

Though the FDA will continue to inspect foreign manufacturers and products, the agency generally conducts roughly 160 food inspections per week. They look for any possible contamination due to various unclean circumstances, and that is only the beginning of a much longer process if foods actually need to be recalled. The FDA also investigates cases sent to them by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); after an illness or outbreak has been reported, the FDA works to trace where the contaminant could have come from before recalling and pulling problematic products from the shelves. All of this takes a lot of work, as we recently reported.

[h/t The Hill]

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