Monday, March 30, 2009

12th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

I'm very proud to be living in the Miles Neighborhood with such terrific neighbors. Three months ago I had an idea on how we could all serve the community. Just look at what we've done to help the Community Food Bank over the last quarter.

That's a lot of food..."One Can A Week" at a time.

As you can see, this week we collected 178 lbs., the most ever, so we are sticking at the 2 shopping cart level. I'm sure I can credit these good results to Barbara, Lenny and Kym who freed me up to see more people. I finished the upper end of 12th Street and those nice folks piled it on a bit. Maybe it was my new ride.

Mary needed her golf cart returned earlier on Sunday so I had to come up with another alternative. Everyone who saw my tricked out VW Cabriolet knew I had something to do with food. Like the photo of my Westies, it was a great ice breaker.

On Saturday, Barbara and I will have a table in the front of the Safeway Super-market from 11:30 AM to 3 PM. We're going to try to encourage other neighborhoods to jump on the "One Can A Week" bandwagon. Stop by if you can.

See you next Sunday.


Monday, March 23, 2009

11th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

Division of labor is a good thing especially when trying to increase Community Food Bank donations. Barbara Farragut and Lenny Cota-Robles collected food on 12th Street where they live right after the game. Barbara told me neighbors were waiting for her and Lenny and had bunches of food to donate.

At about the same time Kym Fuhrig who lives on 13th Street was learning that route. At the end of the day the four of us together collected a record amount of food and produce. All toll we had 144 lbs. of food, 92 lbs. of fruit (produce), 4 lbs. of canned pet food, $15 in cash and a $10 check. That's 240 lbs; our best ever.

Even Friendlier Neighbors
Barbara and I talked today and she said that when the neighbors really know the person doing the food collection they tend to give more food. This makes a lot of sense so as we go forward if I can find neighbors who are willing to take on their "neck of the woods" -- like Lenny, Barbara and Kym -- after I start things off, then our neighbors' weekly commitment and involvement in donating to the Community Food Bank will be greater.

Other Ideas
Angela Walz on 13th Street has another great way to increase donations. She set up a box at work with a sign that tells her co-workers she is collecting for the Community Food Bank. In a week or so the box fills up and she puts it out Sunday with her donation. I saw the results two Sundays ago and was really amazed at the amount I was picking up. Then her husband Stefan told me what was up. I like surprises. If you think of other ideas, please let me know and I will be sure to pass them on.

Grant Money
On Sunday night I got an email from Pauline Hechler, Vice President of Development at the Community Food Bank. She told me Carolyn Owens, their Senior Grantwriter found a small grant offered by the Quaker Oats Company that is intended to reward innovative community service projects focusing on eliminating hunger. It's just $500 but it will go a long way in helping us buy our own One Can A Week Food Donation Program golf cart. Quaker said they will notify winners by March 31st.

See you next Sunday.


Monday, March 16, 2009

10th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

Lots happened on Sunday. I finished calling on all of our neighbors on Miles Street and even some on Martin who gladly signed on to donate one can a week. The total collection was 160 lbs. which is 40 lbs. shy of our 200 record but this week I didn't get any of those heavy grapefruits. (This is a hint fruit lovers.)

Earlier in the afternoon, I met up with Lenny and Barbara, two neighbors on 12th Street who teamed up to take on the responsibility of collecting food every Sunday on their street. Together we chatted with many neighbors so it took us awhile to get around to everyone. Both Lenny and Barbara were really good sports, too. Lenny took all of the notes and Barbara pulled the cart up and down the curbs (no matter what the photo shows). They even said it was okay if I rode in the golf cart while they walked. Well, there was food on the passenger seat.

Barbara and Lenny are going to be a big help every Sunday which allows me to cover more territory. This coming Sunday I will be able to get to 12th Street on the other side of the Red Cross.

Also, next Sunday Kym on 13th Street is going to start collecting on her street. Having folks volunteer to get involved with helping the Community Food Bank makes me even more proud of my Miles neighbors.

As I was stopping by one neighbor a truck backed into the driveway ahead of me. This fellow was delivering soda to be used in a charity event. I chatted a moment and then left. A few minutes later the pickup truck driver came down the street and appeared to steer toward me. I stepped back probably looking a bit startled. He slowed way down, stuck his arm out of the window and handed me a $10 bill. He said he didn't have any food but thought this might help. Neighbor or not, everyone seems to respond when they hear how bad it is for the Community Food Bank in this economy.

I got an email in the evening from Aisling who lives in the Barrio San Antonio Neighborhood across the Arroyo. She wants to meet to discuss starting "One Can A Week" in her neighborhood. This is great news. Maybe we can at least start to think about the big picture which is eliminating hungry folks in Tucson all together.

See you Sunday,


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Ninth Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Weekly Food Collection Project

March 9, 2009

Hi Folks,

We turned in 200 lbs. of food Monday...166 lbs. of canned and packaged goods (12 lbs. more than last week) and 34 lbs. of fruit. Those grapefruit were much appreciated by Howard, the guy who helps me check in each week. So maybe we can donate more fruit. They're pretty heavy but I'm getting stronger with each Sunday's collection.

Earlier today I got a call from Barbara on 12th street. She and her husband have decided to help me collect the food on their street starting next Sunday. This is great...because when it comes to food collection, there can never be too many cooks in the kitchen.

Howard also liked the can of pet food and hand soaps I turned in. "This is perfect," he said, "we take anything that humans use in their daily lives...plastic utensils, paper plates, toothpaste and pet food, of course. People have to have pets and we get lots of pet food donations."

What this means is if you don't happen to have a can of food available on a Sunday, think about Fluffy or Fido or just pick a few fruit from your trees.

See you next Sunday.


Community Food Bank
Monday morning, March 9, 2009

This is the reason the MilesNeighborhood is helping our Community Food Bank. As you can see, their cupboards are a bit bare. Our food collections are growing each week so we are doing our part.

What we need to do is get other neighborhoods “fired up and ready to go.” If you know someone I should talk to please let me know. Thanks.

Arizona Daily Star Article

March 1, 2009

One man against hunger
He heeds Obama's call, collects food in the Miles area

Ernesto Portillo, Jr.
Tucson, Arizona
Published: 03.01.2009

When Peter Norback heard President Obama's call for community service, the Miles Neighborhood resident decided to start right outside his front door. He began soliciting and collecting food from his Midtown neighbors.

"What a challenge to make hunger go away," Norback, 66, said recently during his weekly collection walk. His hope is thatthe city's 180-plus neighborhoods take up the same effort.

"If every neighborhood did this, we could make hunger go away. It can be done," he said. With a box affixed to his handheld cart, Norback spent about six hours walking most of his Midtown
Peter Norback collects a can of food from neighbor Juliet Kettle. “If every neighbor did this, we can make hunger go away. It can be done,” says Norback whose collections go to the Community Food Bank. He appreciates the fact that his neighbors donate good-quality food.
neighborhood which, at his count, includes about 250 houses, not
counting apartments and granny flats.

It was his sixth week and his most productive: 130 pounds and $23 for the Community Food Bank. The previous week he'd collected 78 pounds and $1.

He also likes that his neighbors have good taste in their donated food. "It's always good quality. It's nothing you wouldn't eat yourself," he said.

Norback, a self-employed computer consultant, started his one-person campaign by visiting his neighbors, talking to them about his idea and enlisting their weekly contributions. Many were quick to say yes.

One of the first to say yes was Edward Altamirano, who works for the city in housing rehabilitation. He said in his job, which takes him inside people's homes, he sees the need for donated food. "I see what their pantries look like. I see a lot of empty cupboards and refrigerators," he said, "especially among young families and the elderly."

Jack Parris of the Community Food Bank said a growing number of food-collection drives have sprung up in response to the declining economy and rising need for food.

In December the demand for food rose by 40 percent compared with the year before, said Parris. The demand stretched the food bank's resources, he added. Last month the food bank began to limit families to one box per month. Previously a family could receive two boxes each month, Parris said

Chantelle Bowers who lives in the Miles Neighborhood, said she understands the need for donated food. "I've needed the food bank. Now we need to give back," she said after she gave Norback several cans.

Miles residents leave their donations outside their doors or close to the sidewalk. At each house Norback leaves a thank-you message or sorry-I-missed-you note if there is no food or no one is home. He carries a photo identification badge he created. "This is new. He put some dollars in there," Norback said excitedly when he found several bills instead of cans. With some neighbors he chatted for a moment. At one home he knocked but no one answered. But he knew why. "That's another student," he said. "I think they sleep in on Sundays."

Norback doesn't have help yet but expects to get some soon to help him cover the triangular neighborhood bordered by East Broadway, South Campbell Avenue/Kino Parkway and Arroyo Chico. As temperature rises, Norback said, he'll have to find a way to beat the heat while he and his neighbors beat hunger. "I'm going to find a huge sombrero with a fan."

Contact reporter Ernesto Portillo Jr. at 807-8414 or

Eighth Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Weekly Food Collection Project

March 2, 2009

Hi Folks,

I thought about the summer heat that is around the corner but Ernesto Portillo was the one who brought it into focus. "Will I still collect food in the summer months?" he asked. Thanks to my friend Mary Romaniello who lives in the Sam Hughes Neighborhood the answer is "positively!" A week ago Mary and I were talking about the Sunday food drive and she called me a few days later to offer me her golf cart for a few hours on Sunday. I can tell you, that golf cart really beats the heck out of a 60 lb. hand truck.

Sunday I collected 154 lbs. of food plus a $20 check. The food was another record, 48 pounds over last week... and the money is always a treat. The Community Food Bank can buy lots of food with money and a check is not too heavy to carry around.

For your information, 154 lbs. fills up the recycle bin on the cart twice with a little overflow riding on the passenger seat. On other days of the week, if you see Mary riding around the university or Sam Hughes be sure to wave. She usually has her salt and pepper pooch riding next to her, his ears flapping in the breeze. Also, there is a funny bumper sticker on the back that reads, "Dog is my co-pilot."

I had collected food from about 7 porches or walkways when I met my first neighbor. He asked me if I had seen the Sunday paper...Ernesto Portillo's article was in it. This was a pleasant surprise. I was expecting it to be published Thursday but Sunday is better because the circulation is higher. I talked to other neighbors about the article and they all agreed Ernesto did a terrific job. Many showed me the article and mentioned the photo. Ernesto took the picture also. I said, "Look at that. A pretty young lady and an old guy who needs a haircut." A few laughed too hardily I thought.

If you haven't seen the article yet, just click on the link below.

Kym on 13th Street put a note in her food donation bag volunteering to help. This is great...anyone who wants to help in other ways in addition to donating food is terrific. I'm sure everyone knows the process so just think of what would be comfortable for you to handle and give me a call. Kym's wants to collect from her neighbors on her street.

Lenny on 12th Street stopped me and asked if his daughter Marta in Texas could use our program to collect food in her neighborhood. On Sunday Marta sent me an email and I forwarded all of the information including the Thank You and Sorry We Missed You cards. If you have friends or relatives in other parts of Tucson or other cities, I will be happy to send them all of the documents, too. The more people helping people, the better.

See you next Sunday.


Seventh Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Weekly Food Collection Project

February 23, 2009

Hi Folks,

Sunday couldn't have been better. The weather was terrific and we set a new record of 130 lbs which flew past our previous record of 78 lbs. Also, people donated $23. Last week I got $1.00. I like that kind of growth.

A few minutes before my start time of 11:30, Ernesto Portillo, the columnist from the Arizona Star, showed up and then proceeded to help me gather some food for the next hour and a half. He also did what he came for and interviewed a few Miles neighbors for his column on our One Can of Food a Week community service program. He told me the column will be published this Thursday.

I was surprised so many people knew Ernesto even though I was aware of his prominence as a writer/journalist here in Tucson. It turned out his folks lived on 12th Street when they were newly married. This made for lots of hugs and catch up conversations right after folks opened the door. Ernesto apologized for slowing me down but I said forget it, we're getting lots of food. This made him smile.

Speaking of funny moments, when Juliet on 12th Street answered my knock, she had a sizzling skillet in her hand that was cooking up two eggs and sausage. She told us to wait a second and darted back into the kitchen. I looked at Ernesto and said, "Don't you just love how smart the Miles neighbors are? They know enough to yank a skillet of the stove when answering the door. Better a few grease spatters than a burned brunch."

Before Ernesto had to run he asked me if I were going to collect food in the summer. I said of course, but I'm going to find a huge sombrero with a fan. Around 2 pm when it was 80 degrees and my hand truck was brimming with heavy cans, I decided I am going to have to come up with a better solution which will probably involve my VW Cabriolet or a golf cart.

I had planned to met with Kristin at her home on Cherry as I finished 15th Street. Last week Kristin told me she wanted to proved backup in case I couldn't collect food one Sunday. I thought about backup but has no I do.

We went east on Miles from Cherry. I had the hand truck with lots of cans in the box and Kristin pushed a stroller with a very cute baby girl inside and her 3 and 3/4-year-old son Sammy at her side. He's into fractions. Our parade may have looked unusual but nearly every house we called on said they would participate in the weekly food donation.

When Ernesto's article comes out I will send everyone a link to the story but I also suggest you buy the paper Thursday. Newspapers are in trouble, too and 50 cents is a small price to pay for some much appreciated publicity. Also, I am going to make copies of the article and hand them out to everyone next Sunday.

Have a great week.


Sixth Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Weekly Food Collection Project

February 17, 2009

Hi Folks,

I noticed two things during this past Sunday's food collection rounds: Most of our neighbors donated one can of food--which is our goal--and the quality of the food was super. I think it is wonderful that everyone is thinking about the families who will eventually use this food and how important it is for them to eat a balanced diet.

To date I have covered almost one half of the neighborhood and the total weight last Sunday was 54 lbs. In the next three weeks I will get around to everyone which means the weekly donation should be around 100 lbs. Our Miles Neighborhood is not very big but that amount of food is impressive.

One of our neighbors on 12th Street I talked to Sunday said she does a lot of community service work at TEP where she works. Even with her other commitments, she is going to participate in our "one can of food a week" program and will also talk to her people at TEP to see if they would be interested in starting this food donation program in their neighborhoods. I can tell you, that news perked me up a bit.

The Miles Neighborhood Association meeting is tomorrow night at 6:30 pm. Our food donation program is on the agenda so I hope to see you there. Also, I will talk about a publicity campaign which I just initiated. Weekly food donations to the Community Food Bank is a great community service story and Miles is leading the way. In fact, Ernesto Portillo, Jr. of the Arizona Star is going to write about the Miles Neighborhood's "one can of food a week" program in an upcoming column.

Talk to you soon.


PS. The Community Food Bank was closed on Monday for the holiday so I delivered the food today which delayed this report on day.

Fifth Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Weekly Food Collection Project

February 9, 2009

Hi Folks,

Thought this Sunday's food collection would be rained out but for a couple of hours the sun came out and so did our neighbors. I collected 78 pounds of food which brings our Miles Neighborhood food donations total for the first month to 226 lbs. Amazing! And since I have only covered about one-third of the neighborhood so far, our donation total will probably be near 1,000 lbs. a month when everyone in the Miles Neighborhood hears about the "one can a week" program. This poundage is significant and let me explain how.

A friend of mine, Mike Bolchalk, founder and president of Bolchalk FReY Marketing, introduced me to Pauline Hechler, Vice President of Development and Jack Parris, Public Relations Manger at the Community Food Bank. We met last Friday morning and the most important and motivating thing I took away from the meeting was something Pauline said.

Prior to the onset of this recession, The Community Food Bank was able to give deserving and hungry families two boxes of food a month. The recent demand is so great that they now can only give one box a month. If the Miles Neighborhood and all of the other neighborhoods in Tucson can donate food weekly, perhaps the Community Food Bank could go back to their two boxes of food a month program. Wouldn't that be something.

I thought I was "fired up and ready to go" before. I now have my sights set on Two Boxes of Food a month. I'm glad all of you are helping me serve my community and we all are helping serve those hungry Tucsonans in need.

Talk to you soon.


Fourth Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Weekly Food Collection Project

February 2, 2009

Hi Folks,

Super Bowl Sunday was a super Community Food Bank collection Sunday, too. My grand total was 106 lbs or a 56% increase over the Third Week's collection. I had to make three trips to my home to unload because it was turning into some serious schlepping. I visited all of my old participants and added 2 new blocks...both sides of the street. For next week's collection I am taking along a hand truck to save time and my back.

Another good thing is we graduated to the large scale at CFB when I turned in the food this morning. Also you will notice a calculator on top of the cart in the photo on the right and on the cereal box in the photo on the left. The gentleman who checked me in wanted to help me verify the weight. If you open and enlarge the attached photos, you can see 106 in the digital readout. Funny!

A number of my new participants told me they like the idea they are getting involved in community service and helping the CFB at the same time. One gentleman said he felt it showed respect that I came to his home to get his help. He liked the personal approach and the fact that he didn't have to get really involved in a time-consuming activity to help his community.

I also talked to a young airman named Michael who just came back from Afghanistan. It really was "just" because he was starting back to work on the base today. He liked the "one can a week" program and told me he would talk to his commander about getting his whole unit involved. Maybe Michael will have some news next Sunday.

My friend Beth out on Tanque Verde had her first CFB collection on Sunday which amounted to 28 lbs. She only went to about one-third of the homes on her street to get that total. Beth thinks she can double that amount next week. The homes where Beth lives are spread out as are the streets so her collection process is a bit of a hike.

Talk to you next week.


Third Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Weekly Food Collection Project

January 26, 2009

Hi Folks,

Every week the response and enthusiasm for the Community Food Bank drive gets stronger and stronger here in the Miles Neighborhood. This past Sunday I collected around 60 pounds of food and 5 pounds of toiletries. (The CFB weighs each separately.) Two weeks ago when I first started the food I collected weighed 20 lbs.

My bag got so heavy I had to go unload at my home in order to continue. This is not a complaint mind you, it's kind of a thrill. Some people suggested I get a little red wagon. One gentleman said I might think about modifying a golf bag cart. I like this idea because the cart has big wheels and can take the bumps better.

As you know, while making my rounds, I stop by new houses and sign up new neighbors so next week will be even more productive. I figure by late March I will make it around to everyone in our neighborhood.

This past week I noticed people are getting pretty creative in how they put out their food donation. One gentleman placed the can on the front wall so I didn't have to go up his sidewalk to the porch. Somebody hung a plastic shopping bag on the gate. Another filled a basket and placed it on a table near the door. It's turning into an Easter Egg hunt every Sunday which adds to the fun.

On another front, my friend Beth has begun collecting food in her neighborhood. She lives way east off Tanque Verde on a street in a subdivision. Those she talked to signed up to donate one can a week. She figures all 14 homes on her street will participate then she will move down the road to other streets.

Beth is a great organizer and manager so she has structured her program differently. She makes the initial contact but appoints another person to make the Sunday pickups. She's got a tight work schedule but she wanted to get involved with community service and wanted to help the Community Food Bank in its time of need. She said her decision to delegate the collection process had nothing to do with those darn heavy cans. Just kidding, Beth.

If you saw the news today you probably heard that thousands more across the country lost their jobs. This makes helping the Community Food Bank even more pressing. If you know someone or some organization I should talk to about our "One can a week" program, please pass it along to me. If you want to make a presentation to a group, I'll be happy to go along and help. We've got a lot of people in trouble but we can help and it won't take much effort...just consistency.

Talk to you soon.


Second Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Weekly Food Collection Project

January 21, 2009

Hi Folks,

Last Sunday's food collection covered three blocks, both sides of the street. The committed participants performed beautifully. Food was on the porch or when they saw me at the door, they dashed to the kitchen and came back with a can. The new participants I signed up on my route gave me food right away or promised me it would be ready next Sunday. Generally they really liked the idea that they can participate in a very good cause and it takes very little effort. One gentleman I spoke to asked me if I could make a presentation to his Kiwanis Club to explain the idea to his fellow members. I will find out next Sunday when that might be.

On Monday I turned in the food I collected to the Community Food Bank truck at the Reid Park MLK Celebration.

Tonight I attended our Miles Neighborhood Association meeting. There were 11 people there and I signed up 4 participants. Also, I got a spot on next month's meeting agenda. Bill Richard, the association's president said there will probably be something like 25 -30 people in attendance. As I was leaving, my neighbor Bill, who was already a participant, talked to me in detail about how he bought donation food for the next few weeks and how he decided what sized can would be better for a family. I think this kind of thoughtfulness will be the norm as time goes on. He was actually trying to visualize the family he was helping. Terrific!

I have learned two things in the past two weeks: People like this simple but useful commitment to community service and if I am consistent in my weekly pick ups, the donations will be consistent.

Talk to you again next week.


PS. A funny aside. When my neighbors first open the door, most don't recognize me so I tell them I'm the guy who walks those two white dogs and then I show them the picture. Immediately their faces light up and they say, "Oh, I know you you are." So I must confess, my Westies are making this whole thing happen.

First Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Weekly Food Collection Project

January 12, 2009

Hi Folks,

I had talked to 10 or so neighbors a week ago but this Sunday was the first time I went around to pick up their weekly food donation for the Community Food Bank. Either they had the food on the porch or they came to the door immediately and handed me their donation. I'm really proud of my neighbors to say the least. I also met a few new neighbors and when they saw my brimming grocery bag they popped back into the house and brought out a can or two.

This Sunday I'm making the rounds again, as I will every Sunday, but I think the results will be even better than the 22 pounds I just picked up. On Wednesday I'm attending the Miles Neighborhood Meeting which Edward Altamirano suggested I attend. He told me to contact the president of the association, Bill Richards and explain the idea. Bill liked the concept and said I might be able to make a presentation to the association this month or next. I'll let you know what happens.

As with Edward, others are participating and offering helpful ideas to help me build the Miles Neighborhood Community Food Bank donation program. They tell me to use their names when talking to new neighbors down the street or they say they will talk to others about the "one can a week" program. To date I've covered two blocks, one side of the street only. People are friendly and are taking the time to talk to me about community service and all kinds of things. It's fun and very encouraging.

Something I just came up with is a Thank You card for each participant. I hand it to them or leave it where I find their donation on the porch. (See attached.) I like this idea because people will find the food gone but won't be sure I got it. Now they can be sure. Also, if the donation is not on the porch and no one is home, I leave a Sorry I Missed You note. This is a friendly reminder for the next Sunday.

As I learn how to make this program more efficient and convenient for my neighbors I will let you know.

Talk to you soon.