Monday, December 27, 2010

103rd Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,


We donated 13,299 lbs. of food in 2010.

In other words, at 1.3 lbs. per meal,
· We donated 10,230 meals
· We fed 3,410 people three meals in one day.

Either way, we helped each other make a big difference. And just to compare, in 2009 we donated 9,203.5 lbs. That’s a 44.5% increase this year. Our cash contribution was impressive, too. The $2,654.70 amounted to $23,892.30 in Community Food Bank food and services based on their $1.00 = $9.00 ratio. In 2009 our cash donated was $1,953.38.

Thanks everyone, I am so proud to be your neighbor.

Basket No. 52
This is the last donation basket for 2010 … but it is much like the previous 51 … filled to the brim.

We collected a total of 216 lbs. of food, including 16 lbs. from The Axis Food Mart. The money we donated amounted to $96.50 … $75.00 in checks and $21.50 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, December 20, 2010

102nd Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

Michael’s Christmas Community Service

There are two Jacuzzi-sized boxes near the loading dock door at the Community Food Bank. This is where a great deal of food is warehoused until it is needed to fill food boxes that are handed out monthly to clients. On this particular Monday morning a young man, maybe 17 or 18-years-old was sorting through a couple of shopping carts parked next to the boxes. The moment he saw me he offered to help find an empty shopping cart or two so I could unload my car.

When I explained how I had to keep the food separated until after weighing, he understood immediately. In fact, he followed directions easily and paid attention to everything I was doing. When I tried to hand him several envelopes containing our cash and check donations he quickly replied, “Oh, no, I am on community service.”

I surmised that meant he was under a court order to spend some time thinking about others and less time about trying to awe his peers with the plugs he forced through his ear lobes.

What impressed me most about Michael is his lack of attitude. He was politely interested in One Can A Week and what our neighborhood is trying to accomplish. I gave him a business card and told him to check us out on the web. He may or may not but what I am hoping for is a little Christmas miracle.

I got a feeling that deep down inside, Michael is sensitive to the needs of others but he currently is more concerned with modifying his body instead of his brain. Of course, it is easy, albeit, painful, to hang a ring here or there on one’s face or torso but when you’re done …well, it’s done. If Michael decides to concentrate on hanging knowledge, the ornaments of the mind, instead, he could help himself, his family and thousands of others he will encounter in life. I could see in his eyes that he was surprised people took to him immediately and expected him to join in the task at hand … feeding thousands of hungry Tucsonans just because it is the right thing to do.

My hope is that this Christmas Michael will see that true personal strength is doing some good on your own without any prompting from others, and not “fitting in” with a group that expects conformity and dissuades individual courage.

That’s what I want for Christmas.

It’s Winter in Tucson
Kristen, my next door neighbor handed me a can of beans and two knitted wool hats this Sunday. The hats are on the upper right keeping two canisters of oatmeal cereal warm. She said a lady visits her library every day and knits hats for the needy every day. That’s pretty cool, I think.

We collected a total of 355 lbs. of food, including 40 lbs. of produce and 106 lbs. from The Axis Food Mart. The money we donated amounted to $39.50 … a $25.00 check and $14.50 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, December 13, 2010

101st Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

ROI Makes One Can A Week
Even More Appealing

Return On Investment (ROI) is the phrase I hear a lot when presenting One Can A Week to food stores. My argument is that One Can A Week encourages customers to buy a little more for the needy and the Community Food Bank which in turn means that there’s a little more profit at the end of the day.

Ron Abbott, owner of the Rincon Market was the first to let me set up a table every Saturday for 3 hours in the front of his store. He sold some cans and cereal every week but most of his customers donated cash. I asked him a number of times if he would like to buy food instead of donating the cash. Ron thought he’d stick with the cash donation for the present.

Last Wednesday I set up my display table for the first time at the Sunflower Market on Speedway and Swan and encountered a little activity. Many people saw me for the first time as they left the checkout line and mentioned they would catch me next week. This is a good sign. Also, a number of folks dropped off a dollar or two in my collection plate as they hurried home to make dinner.

The deal I made with Richard Rodriguez, the Sunflower Market manager was the same I offer to all food stores. Any cash that I collect can be used to buy food before I leave for the evening. I do the purchasing so they don’t have to get involved. It’s the same concept as picking up my neighbor’s donated food on Sunday. Easy makes more folks want to participate.

Potatoes were 47 cents a five pound bag so I took the max … 4 bags. I also got some very large cans of diced tomatoes. And Mary Fimbres is right. Thinking about what others may want to eat when shopping sure makes buying food a whole lot of fun.

I told Ron what I had done on Wednesday and offered to do the shopping for him after my stint on Saturday. He warmed to the idea because he’s in business to make a profit and at the same time he has a very strong desire to help folks. “If you purchase the food, he said, “everybody wins. That’ a good thing.”

Everybody does wins with One Can A Week. The folks who give, the folks who receive and the folks like Ron and Richard who make it possible for me to get the word out every week about all of our hungry kids. I win, too, because I get to do some really fun and easy community service.

Before and After Lunch for Once
Usually while I eat lunch on Sunday, Kym stops by and puts her 13th Street collection in front of the Ford. This Sunday, the food was there when I drove up for lunch. There was no check, however, so I guessed it was probably forgotten this week.

After lunch there was more food and the check in front of the Ford. Then who made that extra drop? Not sure but I always like food surprises.

We collected a total of 252 lbs. of food, including 8 lbs. from The Axis Food Mart. The money we donated amounted to $59.50 … $35.00 in checks and $24.50 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, December 6, 2010

100th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

One Can A Week Off on Two New Adventures

Last Tuesday, the 30th I met with Rebecca Lipson, the Miles middle school science teacher, to talk about starting One Can A Week as the school’s community service program. The next day, Wednesday, Rebecca made a presentation to her fellow teachers. In that meeting, she and the Miles staff created a very strong and impressive community service program. Rodney Glassman read Rebecca’s email once then an hour or so later read it again. He commented both times. You’ll probably do what Rodney did and read it a couple of times yourself…it’s really that good.

"Peter and Rodney,

"I got very positive responses from the other teachers today about implementing the One Can a Week program at Miles. It will fit in nicely with the work we've been doing with the Ben's Bells' Kind Kids Program ( this school year. It actually ended up being a funny coincidence that the December Kind Kids activities included starting a community service project within the school. When things like that coincide it's usually a very good sign that we're doing the right thing!

"Here's how we see the program being implemented at Miles:
Each classroom will have a collection box (not a big one, just one made by the students) for students in that class. Items will be collected Monday-Friday. It is up to the individual classroom teachers if they want to tally their own classroom results. 

"Thank you slips will be given to students bringing in items. Students will write their names on the slips and add them to a "kindness tree" on a bulletin board near the front office. This way, everyone will be able to see the donations adding up. We will also have weekly tallies posted here (possibly as increments measured out along the tree trunk, starting at the roots and working its way up to the top branches)

"A class of middle school students (my environmental design class) will be responsible for collecting the donations from each classroom on Friday afternoons. When these students pick up the donations they will also be resupplying the teacher with thank you slips.

"All collected items will be tallied by the middle school students, who will be keeping track of the weekly reports and posting them on the bulletin board by the office.

"Peter has kindly offered to pick up the donated items on Friday afternoon. We will get the weight total from the Community Food Bank to be added into our weekly reports.

"Since it is almost the end of the semester, we will be implementing this program after the winter break. The first week back (January 3rd) will be spent sending out information to parents and introducing the program to the students. Collections will begin the second week after break. The question was brought up of how some of this food could go directly to families here at school. I will be meeting with our social worker to identify which of our school families need this type of support and how we can best help them.

"Over the break, I will also be contacting some people that may want to further support our efforts. This includes my friend Beverly who is a film professor at the UofA. She may have students or colleagues who are interested in taking on this topic. I can also contact a friend of mine who is a deejay at The Mountain and other friends who do radio shows on KXCI involving social issues. Any coverage might inspire someone else to start up a program in their school or neighborhood.

"I am sure that we'll have to troubleshoot some things as we go, but it feels like we have a pretty good start to things. Let me know if you have any feedback.


We have neighbors helping neighbors help. And now we have kids helping kids end their hunger. I just love this world we are creating.

Capitalism Really Is the Way to Feed Our Hungry Children
A few months back I made a presentation to Richard Rodriguez, the manager of the Sunflower Farmers Market on Speedway and Swan. This past Thursday we met to set up his store’s One Can A Week program. Every Wednesday, which is their double coupon day, Richard suggested I set up my display table from 3 pm to 6 pm near the front door along side the large Community Food Bank donation box. In addition, over the next few weeks we will place shelf talkers around the store to help his customers get into the habit of placing one can a week in the Food Bank box.

Richard turned the project over to Michelle Krzyzanwski his Special Events Coordinator. Right away Michelle suggested I create a tall thermometer-type display so her customers could see their donations add up week after week. This is such a terrific idea. I plan on having the display built by next week.

The Sunflower Farmers Market already has 148 lbs. to start their program off which I picked up the day of our meeting. Just think, a well-respected supermarket makes it very easy for its customers to perform a little community service each week and in turn those customers help feed hungry families in Tucson. And all it takes is a can of tuna or a can of beans dropped in a box once a week as the customers head out the door to their cars in the parking lot. My thinking is we soon will be talking tons, not pounds.

A Heart-shaped Watermelon
The moment I pushed the cart up on the scale, Keith, my weekly Food Bank helper, reached into the basket an plucked the watermelon out. “Look,” he said with a bit of surprise in his voice, “a watermelon in the sharp of a heart.”

Juan who was sitting behind the counter stopped counting the money and slowly looked up. “So?”

Maybe that comment would have worked better in February.

We collected a total of 216 lbs. of food including 31 lbs. of produce. The money we donated amounted to $47.82 … a $25.00 check and $12.00 in cash plus $10.82 from The Axis Food Mart.

See you Sunday,