Monday, June 1, 2009

21th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

The End of Hunger in Tucson
For nearly 6 months now I have been talking about collecting so much food weekly for the Community Food Bank that we ostensively end hunger in our city. Before it was just talk and lots of work ahead, however, after my breakfast meeting with the Kino Rotary Club in South Tucson, talk may turn to reality.

Debbie Haddock who presided over the breakfast meeting and Corina Baca told me about a Tucson Rotary Club strategy where all 20 clubs would join forces to help a single cause. And for everyone at the meeting the Community Food Bank was at the top of his or her favorite charity list. In fact, each of the 10 attendees brought in a can of food for me to add to our weekly donation plus $13.00 in cash.

Projects That Solve Problems
Before I got into the crux of One Can A Week, I told them that in my career I mostly created projects that answered specific questions. Two of the examples I used to explain my M.O. more clearly were “The Misspeller’s Dictionary” published by Quadrangle, The New York Times Book Company and Top Tag Pet ID. “The Misspeller’s Dictionary” contains misspelling so you can look up the word like you think it is spelled…which spell check killed, thank you very much. Top Tag is a universal USB flash drive pet ID tag worn on a dog’s collar that contains all of the pet’s contact and care information.

So it naturally follows that the One Can A Week neighborhood food donation program is designed to achieve an explicit goal unlike most charitable endeavors fostered by prestigious organizations such as the Rotary. This idea of really doing something that solves a problem was intriguing to everyone in the room.

Safeway Saturdays and More
I then told them about my Safeway Saturdays and how it could be expanded to Safeway Saturdays, Sundays and Coupon Wednesdays. All it takes is a corps of energetic volunteers who can spend 3 hours a week standing behind a table with a food donation box and say, “Hi, how are you doing today?” (I never ask for donations…my signage and car do that for me.)

And with just 10 Safeways, 10 Fry’s, 8 Bashas’ and 4 Trader Joe’s, the challenge to mobilize the volunteers needed is small but the rewards are great. Nearly everyone in Tucson visits one of these supermarkets at least once a week. Interestingly enough all of these supermarkets are donating food to the Community Food Bank weekly right now through their back doors. However, I said, a huge, untapped source of food donations for the Community Food Bank is at the front door of Tucson’s major supermarkets.

To drive home the point even more, I mentioned that the manager of the Broadway and Campbell Safeway loves One Can A Week because it is the only charity that pays rent for its weekly spot in front of the store. We encourage additional purchases that their customers would otherwise not have made. Don’t you just love capitalism and helping people in trouble!

Noodles Weigh More Than You Think
About half way through my collection route Sunday I noticed that there were an abundance of noodle, spaghetti and macaroni packages. Since weight is the key gauge at the Community Food Bank I was a bit concerned that this week’s donations would not measure up. At the Monday morning weigh-in I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the Miles donations totaled 228 lbs. That’s the second highest amount to date. I love being wrong when it comes to guessing food weights.

Little Safeway Odds and Ends
A gentleman wearing a paper name tag and carrying a drink and a can of beans walked up to our table. He handed me the can and as he walked away said over his shoulder, “Your sign worked, I was just going to buy a drink.”

About every 40 minutes I have to go to the car and rewind the music tape. On one of the trips I noticed a large can of peas in the back seat. Even the Cabriolet is proving to be irresistible to people and their urge to help.

See you next Sunday.


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