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,


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