Monday, November 29, 2010

99th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

Meeting of the Minds at Miles ELC School

Miles School ELC Entrance
Rebecca Lipson is one of those rare individuals who has ideas … lots of solid, practical ideas and knows how to bring them into reality. She’s the middle school science teacher at Miles who took her students to tour the Community Food Bank’s Marana gardens and then helped her classes set up their own vegetable gardens on the lands surrounding the school. We met today for an hour and a half and in that time we moved a little closer to ending hunger here in Tucson.

On Wednesday, Rebecca will meet with the other teachers in her school to establish One Can A Week in most grades. Interestingly enough, they already have a One Can A Week like program in place where one class picks up all of the recycling materials from each classroom on a specific day and time each week. To help Rebecca out I am going to get her one of those huge box containers from the Community Food Bank and place it in the corner of her classroom. I will pick up their donations each Friday. The next thing Rebecca needs is a few color printers, paper and ink. As you know or probably could have guessed, schools have major budget constraints and therefore have no color printers at all. One Can A Week collateral materials stand out and definitely work better in color. With good, HP and Cannon printers on the market for $30, this will not be an issue.

More Than One Can A Week
We spent a lot of conversation time on two other very important subjects: How to make it real for the students and How to reposition the schools as the center of community life again.

Making It Real
Most of us know there are children and families in deep trouble here in Tucson but we have no actual exposure to the dilemma because we do not work in the field. I wished for a documentary that would follow a Tucson family or two in their daily lives and show us what it’s like to raise a family where the food and money are in short supply. Rebecca immediately told me she knows a documentarian at the U of A she will approach with the idea.

Putting Community Back in Our Community Schools
Rebecca is already making headway in this area with her vegetable gardens. She is teaching her students who in turn will teach their neighbors how to grow really fresh and organic vegetables and fruits in their backyards.

She also believes One Can A Week is another terrific community outreach program where the students can take what they have done and what they have learned about feeding needy folks back to their neighborhoods and inspire their families and neighbors.

In an email last week, Bill Carnegie, President and CEO of the Community Food Bank called me an inspirational leader. I wasn’t sure what that meant until I met Rebecca Lipson today. She understands what has to be done to teach her students and what it takes to take care of the needy. And she does it just because it has to be done.

Oh, No, Not Again …
The cashier behind the counter at the Rincon Market looked at me and then at the empty space where the Food Bank Styrofoam cup used to sit next to the credit card key pad. “Do you know where the Food Bank cup is?” I asked. “I hope it wasn’t stolen again.”

The cashier said he would check with someone in the back. I know he was surprised that the cup was missing because he left his post rather hurriedly without telling the other two staff members working with him.

In about a half hour Ron Abbott, the owner came up to me smiling. “The accountant threw the cup away,” he said.. We have it on tape. It’s really funny. I can’t wait to tell her what she did.”

This Is What Happened
On Wednesday, one of the cashiers noticed the Food Bank cup was full and took it back to the office to be emptied. The money was poured from the Styrofoam cup into the gray money pouch and then the cup was pitched into the waste paper basket beside the desk. Apparently, the beat up cup looked too beat up but that was half its charm. There is a new Food Bank cup now. Let’s hope it is as special as it’s discarded Styrofoam mate.

The Rincon Market was closed on Thanksgivings so we only missed Friday’s donations. The total amount collected at the Rincon Market this week was 20 lbs. of food and $109.10. Not bad at all considering the Styrofoam cup took a two-day holiday.

A Three-pound Pie Takes the Cake
There was a lot of competition this week for the most unusual food donation. At the top of the basket is a case of beans. At the foot of the basket are a whole bunch of bananas and two bags of potatoes. But my favorite is the 48 oz. pumpkin pie which required special handling. It was so big I could not carry anything else for fear of loosing control of the slippery package. The pie arrived safely at the food bank, mostly because no one donated any whip cream.

We collected a total of 229.5 lbs. of food including 50.5 of produce and 1 lb. of cat food. The money we donated amounted to $54.00 … $30.00 in checks, $11.00 in cash plus $13.00 and 4 lbs. of food from The Axis Food Mart.

See you Sunday,


Monday, November 22, 2010

98th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
Kids Helping Feed Kids

They came from all corners of Tucson yet they showed up at the Swan and Grant Starbucks on time. Although there was a chill in the air and it was late in the day Monday, everyone was eager to discuss various ways to incorporate One Can A Week into the Vail School District. (Seated left, Jacob Coldsmith, Logistics, Community Food Bank, Bobby Rich, MIXfm, Rodney Glassman, Glassman Foundation, Calvin Baker, Superintendent, and Krista Gypton, CTE Connections Coordinator, Vail School District and Bill Carnegie, president/CEO, Community Food Bank.)

Instead of overwhelming Calvin and Krista with One Can A Week facts and accomplishments each of us talked about the personal aspects of One Can A Week that impressed us most. Rodney started off telling us about his dinner a week ago with Richard Fimbres our Ward Five councilman and his wife.

Mary Fimbres said that after participating in One Can A Week for over a year, she now shops specifically for the Food Bank. While buying food for her family, she picks up special items for her donation instead of just grabbing something off her pantry shelf each Sunday. Rodney’s point was the mindset One Can A Week creates and it is something he would like to see instilled into all kids.

Bobby Rich spoke about the small gesture of giving one can and the huge effect it has when it becomes a consistent habit. Then Bill Carnegie mentioned a number of programs the Food Bank has that can address many of the special needs facing hungry kids in Vail. This prompted Calvin Baker to ask if the Food Bank served Vail because it would be easier to encourage people to participate if their donations came back to those in need in their community. There are lots, Bill assured Calvin and he will gladly send him the statistics.

Near the end of the conversation, Calvin summed up the discussion as he saw it. The Vail School District could:

1. Have the children donate one can a week
2. Focus on collecting healthy foods for the Food Bank’s Back Pak program
3. Open a pantry in the school once a week and help the needy in Vail
4. Adopt a school in another district and donate enough food to eliminate hunger in that district

Calvin also saw that they have to find an impassioned personality to run their One Can A Week program just like I’ve done in the Miles Neighborhood. They have already begun the process to find that person even before attending this meeting.

My ‘take away” as the corporate folks like to say, is not one negative point was made in this meeting. Not one “yes, but” was uttered. We did talk about the teachers’ workload and no budgets to speak of but only in reference to things we have to work around.

We were all of one mind. We must feed the children and we must find a way to get everyone involved because it really does take a village to raise a child.

Special Note: “Because the Vail/SE Tucson region of Southern Arizona has experienced immense residential and commercial growth over the past decade, the Vail School District is now one of the fastest growing districts in Arizona. At present, the Vail School District has seven elementary schools, four middle schools, two comprehensive high schools, an alternative high school, and two charter schools. 10,259 students are currently enrolled in grades K-12.” Quoted from About the Vail School District on the Vail School District web site.

There Should Have Been Two
Seham, Maen Mdanat’s wife saw a terrific bargain at Fry’s and bought two 20 lb. turkeys. I took them out of the freezer at the Axis Food Mart, put them in the back seat of my car and returned to the store to thank Maen and his family for their generosity. When I returned to the car, Adam, my Energizer Bunny Westie was in the back seat with the rock hard frozen turkeys and I thought nothing of it.
When I arrived home I took the turkey’s out of the car and just before popping them into my freeze I noticed the drumstick ends were exposed on one of the turkeys. Upon closer inspection, I saw that something like an aggressive Westie had yanked the plastic wrap open and tried to gnaw the bones. Also, the gravy pack was shredded.

Instead of trying to think of a story to tell Howard at the Community Food Bank on Monday, I decided to give the turkey to a neighbor who could use a little help now and again. She thinks Adam is cute. She also thinks what her family doesn’t know won’t hurt them.

We collected a total of 220 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $63.00 … $30.00 in checks, $17.00 in cash plus $16.00 and 52 lbs. of food from The Axis Food Mart.

See you Sunday,


Monday, November 15, 2010

97th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
Under "Serious Consideration"

Twenty-six minutes after I sent a brief email to Rodney Glassman describing and explaining our Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week food donation program, Rodney sent an email to Calvin Baker, the superintendent of the Vail School System. It was 11:27 pm.


Can you check out this program below. Do you think this is something Vail would be willing to explore on a trial basis? It is a great program and could be REALLY great for the community and area. Very similar concept to reading one book a week but with a charitable twist. thoughts?


By 7:21 am the next morning, Mr. Baker replied to Rodney.

Good Morning,

“Great concept. Thank you for thinking of us.

“I've had some initial discussions with Krista Gypton, an outstanding teacher working in our CTE (Career and Technical Education) office who is passionate about service learning projects. We are exploring possible ways of implementing the concept in Vail. We are a bit distracted with the loss of our override and we have an administrative retreat the next two days . . . so be a bit patient with us. We are giving this serious consideration and will get back to you soon.


Rodney also copied a number of people who are or will be important to the implementation of One Can A Week in the Vail School System. Bill Carnegie, President and C.E.O. of the Community Food Bank then sent me an email.

“Rodney, Peter and Bobby (Rich),

“I want to thank each of you for working on this. Rodney what a wonderful idea and I hope Calvin is able to consider a pilot program for us.

“We could do regular Friday pick ups of food and keep track of the pounds by school. I'm sure you are all aware that we are facing the most difficult time since the Great Depression with both the economy and the numbers of people out of work. Peter's "One Can A Week" program is beginning to gain momentum across the nation and we would love to add a school model.

“I would enjoy the opportunity to discuss the viability of a pilot project in Vail.


I was amazed at the immediate and positive response from for all of these very influential folks. Then I received the best email of all from Rodney.

“Everyone hold tight. We will wait to hear if this District is the right fit, and will coordinate from there. Plan to hear from me next once I hear from Calvin Baker. We spoke yesterday. No need for any investment of time or resources quite yet. This could be something great!

“I promised Peter I would help put this together because I believe in him and what he's doing. Thanks everyone.


With Rodney on our side, now we can really succeed and feed even thousands more Tucsonans.

More School Community Service
Petra, (right) Rayah and Michael (background), Maen Mdnant’s three children spent three productive hours in front of their father’s store collecting donations for the Community Food Bank. Rayah even made up a song she sang to each passing customer. “You can’t go into the store unless you donate to the food bank.” The verse didn’t rhyme but it sure brought smiles to the faces of Maen’s customers. At the end of their tour, Petra, Rayah and Michael collected $55.00. Now that’s something to sing about.

The Meek Shall Fix the Earth
Kristen, my next door neighbor had a few minutes to talk Sunday and eventually we got around to hungry kids here in Tucson. She works for the Tucson-Pima Public Library and part of her responsibility is the after-school reading program for children. Many of those kids, around 25 most days, stay until they close at 8 pm. I asked if she feeds them because it is way past suppertime. Kristen said no, they can’t prepare meals in the library.

Good heavens, they have lunch at school and then nothing until 8 pm and … maybe not even then? I then thought of my friend Maen Mdnant and men and women like him who are generous, community minded and own stores in the neighborhood. “Why not ask them for help,” I said. “A peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a pint of milk is not much of an expense … even five days a week”

I asked Kristen to put together a fact sheet on the situation at the library and I will help her go to the local business community and get some help to feed those 25 hungry kids.

We all see things and know the situation is wrong but have no idea how to implement a solution. That’s where I can help. Just tell me what you see that needs fixing and I’ll try to come up with an answer. If we all stand up and do something, this world will be worth our kids inheriting.

Rodney Was Right
In our first meeting Rodney Glassman kept on pushing the schools saying that was the way to go for One Can A Week. I wasn’t completely sold until I got the emails regarding the Vail School System and now this one from Sarah in Atlanta, GA.

“Hi Peter-

“I've attached a photo of my One Can a Week crew. Kind of a funny one, but the best we can seem to come up with!

“Last week we collected 34 pounds of food - a record high for our little route! And beginning this past week, my son's 3rd grade class at Cliff Valley School has decided to join in our food collection efforts, too. Last week they filled a whole bin with cans for us to take to the food bank. They're very excited about the project!

“I'll keep you up to date with future news!


Ok, I’m convinced.

Looks Are Deceiving
Not shown is 20 lbs. of produce because it was delivered to the Food Bank late last week, not on Monday. Then there is the 38 lbs. donated by DKA Associates. They are stepping up their food contributions and want an official record. I can do that for them especially taking into consideration the “stepping up the donations” part.

We collected a total of 196 lbs. of food, including 20 lbs. of produce. The money we donated amounted to $171.00 … $60.00 in checks, $56.00 in cash plus $55.00 and 2 lbs. of food from The Axis Food Mart.

See you Sunday,


Monday, November 8, 2010

96th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

“Let’s teach kids to give, first.”

Rodney Glassman on to the Future
Although Rodney Glassman needed to take a dozen steps to get to where I was sitting in the corner of his Starbuck’s in the Crossroads Mall, the trek took him nearly 3 minutes to make. There were lots of hugs, handshakes and friendly greeting. When he finally sat down his phone got his attention now and again but he only looked at it briefly and placed it back on the table.

Rodney knew about One Can A Week from his days on the Tucson City Council and said he liked the concept. Today he wanted to hear about my new approaches. In a minute or two I talked about the presentation to the Sunflower Market and the idea of maximizing food donations to two or three schools to determine the effects of a full nutrition program for needy kids.

He listened intently and then said he would like to see One Can A Week introduced to one or two schools and at the end of the Spring session, throw a pizza party for the kids at the zoo or some other fun place like that. He would help introduce me to some school administrators and help procure the pizzas.

My first reaction should have been, “That’s wonderful; how do we get started?” Instead, I tried to say politely how huge this hunger problem is and that we have to think about all of the medical ramifications involved in poor diets and obesity. Rodney politely hit the ball back to me and asked if I knew how unsettling or abrasive or something like that, my approach was?

I thought, “Good, my New York was coming back. It hadn’t melted in the sunshine.” Of course I don’t mean to be difficult to deal with, but this problem is so huge I get a little impassioned.

We reached an agreement mostly because Rodney was not going to give up on me. I will send him a brief email proposal explaining One Can A Week and how our successful program might be introduced into schools to teach children how to give to needy children on a consistent basis. Rodney in turn will contact school administrators and set up meetings.

This approach is a terrific compromise…I’m happy, Rodney’s happy and I’m glad I voted for him.

Hungry Children Like Candy, Too
A couple of days after Halloween, Rayah, Maen Mdanat’s 11-year-old-daughter, suddenly packed up what was left of her Trick or Treat stash and handed it to her dad. She wanted him is take it to the store and donated to the food bank. “She did it on her own,” Maen proudly told me. “She loves candy but she is thinking of others instead of herself. This is a good thing.”

We collected a total of 196 lbs. of food, including 24 lbs. of produce. The money we donated amounted to $58.50 … $30.00 in checks, $8.50 in cash plus $20.00 and 2 lbs. of food from The Axis Food Mart.

See you Sunday,


Monday, November 1, 2010

95th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
Looking for a Little Adventure

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and The Can Guy

On the drive over to the Rincon Market Saturday morning, I thought about the relative calm that now surrounds One Can A Week. No phone calls from the press or potential volunteers. Just pleasant greetings from neighbors and lots of donations. To me this is unsettling. If I do not feel a little uncomfortable about things, I feel complacency is setting in and complacency is what marks the end of projects or companies or relationships. I actually said aloud to my steering wheel, “I need a little adventure.”

 About 45 minutes into counting Rincon’s weekly cash donations—which eventually totaled a very impressive $172.36—two beautiful women entered through the automatic doors and headed for the breakfast buffet.

(As an aside, I am still able to count money or do just about anything and not miss attractive women walking by.)

One of the women looked familiar to me and then I heard several of the gentlemen having breakfast in the overstuffed leather chairs behind me say she was Congresswoman Giffords. The two women gathered their breakfast and eventually ended up at the small table directly in front of me just on the other side of the automatic doors. I finished counting twenty or so minutes later and then walked by their table and the bakery counter to the cash register where I noted the weekly total on the Styrofoam cup.

On the way back to my display table, Congresswoman Giffords stood up and extended her hand to me. I hesitated a moment and being the semi-germaphobe I am, I told her that I was counting money all morning and I did not want to infect her as she ate her breakfast. I could see she appreciated the gesture.

I had met Congresswoman Giffords years earlier when she owned Cooper Tire and I was helping a business consultant market his services. As an introduction, I sent her an electric clock with a 13-hour face which I created. My pitch was that the clock was one way to get more hours in a day but my client’s service may be more practical.

Turns out Congresswoman Giffords still has the clock but didn’t remember my name until I told her. She invited me to sit a moment and we talked about how difficult an election season it has been. It pained me to hear that this very dignified woman had to go through such awful personal encroachment just to represent me in Washington. Actually, it pains me that anyone has to suffer such incivility.

On her way out, Congresswoman Giffords stopped by my table and wanted a picture. As her Marketing Director Anne Hilby set up to take the picture with her iPhone, Congresswoman Giffords moved behind the table and put her arm around my back. I was in the process of gingerly holding her back, when a single voice came from the direction of the leather chairs. “How’s that…” the words trailed off but I got the gist of it … something to do with hope and change. Congresswoman Giffords looked beyond me at the gentleman and took a breath as if she were going to speak but said nothing. He said it again.

I heard it very clearly this time and I instantly confronted him. “Excuse me, but could you have a little more class? To say I was stern really does not capture the disdain I felt and most definitely exhibited. Quickly the guy gave an embarrassed laugh and said he has no class. That was the end of it. Not even his friends said a word.

Today we vote. I already voted for Congresswoman Giffords and stood up for her in more ways than I ever imagined. We all have to stand up and we all have to vote if we really believe that our children should grow up in a civil society. I believe they should … what do you think?

A Little Nostalgia
The first think I thought about when I saw the Quaker cereal boxes was the grant we won from the Quaker Oats Company lo those many months ago. That money we got in Week 18 bought our signage and the umbrella for the Cabriolet Time really does fly when you are having fun.

We collected a total of 251 lbs. of food, including 47 lbs. of produce. The money we donated amounted to $61.50 … $30.00 in checks, $13.50 in cash plus $18.00 and 30 lbs. of food from The Axis Food Mart.

See you Sunday,