Tuesday, August 3, 2010

82nd Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

The Fates Are Back from Vacation
One week without those three charming ladies and life turns into a TV test pattern. But they’re back and I’m back in the business of feeding hungry folks and their kids.

On Saturday morning I set up the One Can A Week table at the Rincon Market, picked up the Food Donation soup cup from next to the cash register and dumped its contents on the table. There were a whole bunch of dollar bills stuffed to the brim and I wondered why that happened this week. Generally, quarters are the big donated item.

About 9:45 I looked up at the wall clock across the room and thought that Bobby Rich may show up around 10 if he were going to show at all. Sure enough, there he was at 9:53 shaking my hand and telling me he and his wife Debbie were going to have breakfast with me. I quickly got my scrambled eggs, potatoes and bacon and sat down.

Debbie is the Chief Executive Officer of the Sahuaro Girl Scout Council, Inc. and it didn’t take long for the conversation to go from pleasant hellos to feeding hungry children in Tucson. In her capacity as head of the Girl Scouts, Debbie gets involved with most aspects of community service here in Tucson.

E=Full Tummies
I told both Bobby and Debbie that I get a chance to do a lot of thinking sitting behind that table over there, pointing to the yellow draped One Can A Week display by the door. A lot of times I feel like Einstein, just thinking and thinking…but on a very low level, mind you. Bobby jumped in and said that he was glad I ended my sentence as I did because he thought I was going to go on some kind of ego trip. I said no, I was just going for the joke.

The truth is for the past few weeks I have been visiting the Community Food Bank web site and reading about all of the programs they have available to feed folks…kids especially. If you take what they offer and add it to the two federal programs, kids end up with a school lunch program, a snack pak program and a summer meals program. That’s enough to get the job done. What is missing are resources. All three are looking for food and funding all of the time because the demand is so great and the supply is so small. That’s why we have hungry kids.

What if we take those programs and two schools in a low-income neighborhood and maximize the resources. Just keep the resources flowing by enlisting food providers and businesses in an experiment to see what happens. Do the scores go up? Does the weight go down? Does the health improve? What happens if we really take care of our poor kids? We already know how costly and dangerous it is when we don't.

Debbie said, “Maximize and then analyze.” Exactly. She also said she liked the idea and she knows people who will help foster the program. I hadn’t fully designed or defined the program in my mind but one must move when an opportunity grins at you. My dad always told me that opportunity is often disguised as hard work. It’s been true in my case perhaps because luck has never been a friend of mine.

I immediately told Bobby and Debbie that I would put together a proposal that spelled out all of the elements of our two-school project. Why not just give the Community Food Bank, one of the most efficient service organizations in the nation, as much food and resources as possible and let them work with the school system to beat hunger in two needy schools? Then armed with the data and success, other businesses and folks will step up because the Comunity Food Bank and the school system will have shown that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s thousands of happy-faced kids.

Folks Moving On
The Fates have affected a number of our good neighbors also. They are moving to new neighborhoods—one as far away as Ithaca, NY. With some I learn about their departure when I ring the bell and nobody’s home…permanently. Those I talk to ask me not to delete them from the Weekly Update email list because they want to keep up with what is happening in the neighborhood and One Can A Week. That’s nice.

As soon as I see that there are new neighbors, I talk to them about One Can A Week and most want to participate right away. A few are a bit hesitant when I tell them that they owe a can for every week the house sat vacant prior to their moving in. Just kidding!

We collected a total of 208 lbs. of food including 38 lbs. of produce and 42 lbs. from the Axis Food Mart. In addition, there were 4 lbs. of non-food items. The money we donated amounted to $59.00…three checks for $40 and $19 in cash.

See you Sunday,


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