Monday, October 31, 2011

147th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
You Can Feel the Pain in His Heart

It was pretty obvious that Bill Carnegie, CEO of the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona loves his job. Months back, as he took Bobby Rich from MIXfm and me on a personal tour of the huge warehouse facility—which in itself is an indication of the huge problem he oversees—Bill talked glowingly about his up-to-date food distribution center and the numerous programs they have in place to feed the needy in Tucson.

The ever-increasing demand for food is the reason the
Community Food Bank’s shelves are often empty.
Just a few days ago I received a copy of Nourishing News, their quarterly newsletter. In his "A Note from the President" column, Bill’s presentation was a bit more somber. "Four years ago,” he wrote, “we were assisting about 98,000 men, women and children each month; today that number is 235,000. We are nervous about the future."

Well, considering the planet Earth is now home to more than 7 billion humans as calculated by the UN Population Fund and growing 220,980 more souls daily, we all should be nervous right along with Bill. If we don't all take this problem seriously, Mother Nature, in the long run, will correct the situation. And that won't be pretty.

In the short term, while we create those long-term programs to modify human behavior, there is something we can do right now. Be fair.

Those two words seem to have disappeared from the lexicon of those in congress, the health care industry, the oil companies, and the financial institutions. Actually it appears most of the significant organizations running our society have lost their sense of fairness.

But then there are those rays of hope slicing through the darkness. For instance, the National Football League sets up its annual draft of the newest and brightest players by ranking teams in reverse order based on the prior season's record. Then they allow the worst team to pick first. Spreading the talent around and helping the less fortunate in the NFL just makes good business sense. Who’s going to attend or watch a game where the downtrodden keep on getting more down troddened.

One of the first things our parents and teachers encourage us to do in our early socialization process is to share. It, too, makes good sense and it makes for peaceful and productive communities. Why this concept becomes alien to many adults who have some bucks in the bank and a lust for power in their hearts is one of those great mysteries of life.

In the 1960s when materialism became the all-consuming goal here in America, it was said, “the one who dies with the most toys, wins.” This is an axiom with an interesting and profound word choice. Aren’t toys for kids and aren’t kids supposed to share on their way to becoming caring adults?

Bill, and the rest of us, wouldn’t have to be so nervous about the future if the answer to those two questions is a simple “Yes.”

Keep the Cereal Coming
Breakfast food is not the cheapest product on the supermarket shelves but lots of folks are stepping up to take care of the kids. Every week we donate stacks of cereal boxes which, in turn, helps keep kids healthy and productive in the classroom.

We collected a total of 156 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $42.50, $7.50 in cash and two checks for $35.00.

See you Sunday,


Monday, October 24, 2011

146th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
Tweet-like Update,
but With More Characters

It didn't take long to count the cash donations at the Rincon Market Saturday because there weren't that many. So I decided to stick around longer than usual to see if I could put some energy into the collection plate. The dollars were stacking up and then a gentleman approached my table.

"Is this program affiliated with a religion?" he asked?

"No," I replied.

He quickly withdrew a $5 bill from his pants pocket and dropped it on the plate. As he walked away I said to myself, "But I have to tell you, I do my One Can A Week program religiously."

The Miles School cafeteria is no picnic when it comes to ease of access for a number of our neighbors. With all of those stairs and gates to negotiate, it becomes a bit of a pain in the knee to attend our monthly neighborhood meeting. Consequently, Lorraine Aguilar, the sweetheart that she is, requested that we meet in the Miles Gym. Great idea! The access problem solved, but even bats won’t stay in that gym because of the horrific acoustics. It’s nearly impossible to hear a person speaking in a normal voice seated just 15 feet away.

When I spoke to Lorraine last Sunday and suggested we go back to the cafeteria, she came up with a better idea.

“How about holding our monthly meetings in people’s homes?“ she asked.

Lorraine is going to talk to others to see if there is interest. I like the idea because a change of venue may generate more interest in attending our meetings … even if they are there just to check out the drapes.

In last week’s update, There Are So Many Things to Fix… a couple of folks found the inspiration they needed to help feed America’s hungry kids.

Ari Kaplan, a nationally known author, business consultant and motivational speaker, sent me an email from his home in New York.. “…just wanted to let you know that I am doing my first can pick-up on Sunday :) So far, 3 of my neighbors have agreed - you have to start somewhere! Will keep you posted. Thanks for the inspiration.”

Phoebe Fox in Phoenix wrote, “To be honest, I haven't read these updates in a little while (life has been busy). The boys and I took a summer break from One Can a Week, and I am just now thinking about starting up again. My friend Emy and I had a great conversation about it today, and we got so excited by discussing the idea of how we could help make One Can a Week grow in Phoenix. Your email tonight inspired me to email my neighbors; it gave me just what I needed to get back into it and "do something". Thank you!”

Just one email inspires me to keep writing … and I got two. Wow!

Moments before she left, Martha introduced herself.

"Is that your car?" she asked right after making her purchase.

I was working Sunday for a few hours at Axis to help out my friend Maen. He wanted to take his kids to the pumpkin patch and I thought that was something he should do since he works maybe 70 hours a week.

"Can you tell me what that is all about?"

As I explained the One Can A Week program I could see an intense interest in her eyes. "I like that idea," she proclaimed, "and you will see me later when I check out your blog."

Most folks say that, but Martha’s eyes told me she will be back.

Giant Cereal Box
It takes two hands to carry the 9 lb. box of Quaker Oats cereal someone donated Sunday. That monster box is going to keep a lot of hungry tummies warm this winter, that’s for sure.

We collected a total of 174 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $31.50, a $25.00 check and $6.50 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, October 17, 2011

145th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
There are so many things to fix
yet only one simple thought
occupies everyone’s mind. 
Diane McEachern from the very small town of Bethel in western Alaska helps
explain the essence of Occupy Wall Street for those befuddled by the movement.
To read her full story, click on the link to the Los Angeles Times/Nation website.
While checking out my favorite news sites Saturday afternoon the above photo of Diane McEachern jumped out at me. I didn’t see the headline or the caption…just the photo. Of course, I thought, that is what Occupy Wall Street is all about. And having a cacophony of causes under one umbrella is suddenly not confusing to me any more.

Occupy Wall Street is a simple tool, like One Can A Week, where ordinary concerned citizens can personally do something about an awful situation by exerting very little energy. Pitch a quiet tent in a city park and you are doing something very important. You have finally found something you can do about the abuses of the financial system, the astonishing lack of jobs or the closing of your favorite library. It is the powerful feeling of doing something— not the cause(s)—that is so exhilarating and motivating.

I immediately understood the concept when I saw this poignant image of a lone woman with here peaceful pups. (Those guys look like they get it, too.)

The organizers of Occupy Wall Street are also aware of what they have discovered as indicated by their insistence on and off camera that a precise cause does not matter. Just the thought of doing something simple motivates people to help make great changes. They will keep the occupations going and by sheer numbers of voters attending these events, things will change. When it is time, the organizers will probably say, “Now go vote. Pick the candidates that talk about changing what you want to see changed.”

We are celebrating our 145th consecutive week of collecting food for the hungry in Tucson. One hundred and forty-five weeks of doing something simple like taking a neighbor’s can of food to the food bank. Apparently, we have been occupying the Miles Neighborhood for some time now.

The Bigger Picture
We are here on this planet to help each other but when the powerful make us feel helpless, hopeless and weak, it is time to do something simple like Occupy the Tundra in Alaska. or Armory Park in Tucson. Just by standing next to other 99%ers, we can gather our collective strength and vote into office those
who are able to help, not hinder our compassionate view of the world.

We do have to face up to and face down those who want to challenge our democratic way of life for the sake of a quick buck. All  it will take is each of us, like Diane McEachern in Bethel, Alaska deciding to occupy a small space with a simple idea.

Banana Bonanza
We still donated lots of cereal boxes and peanut butter jars but bananas were by far the most plentiful food product this week. Exactly 100 lbs. worth of bananas accompanied 10 lbs of potatoes topped off with a colorful bunch of radishes.

We collected a total of 238 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $33.00, a $25.00 check and $8.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

144th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

Don’t you just hate it when a lot of little things go wrong, one right after another. Monday was a holiday and I thought, as in months past, that the Community Food Bank was closed. I planned on a Tuesday afternoon delivery.

Consequently, on Monday night I prepped for my blog, researching logos and links for my story on Feeding America and The Corporation for National and Community Service. (This article will appear in next week’s update.)

Months ago, Norton warned me about an attack while searching for an innocuous round cornered label image on Google. Seems Google was having problems with infected images which they soon fixed.

But nothing disturbed Norton Monday night and I blithely clicked away. Tuesday morning, Aisling, a Barrio San Antonio friend of mine asked me about an email she got. She knew something was up. Then I got another email from a friend and another. Eventually, Bobby Rich and Bill Carnegie, the CEO of the Community Food Bank checked in.

Bobby said change my password and the problem will go away. Soon after he told me I did just that.

Although everyone was expecting the normal Tuesday morning Update from me, they got something totally different and were puzzled. After I settled down Tuesday morning I realized that perhaps it was a good thing I erroneously gave the Food Bank a holiday on Monday. This mistake on my part saved me from a real spamming situation Tuesday morning.

My most upsetting thought was that I worked years to build my readers’ trust and then with a click of a mouse by a jerk in a basement somewhere, all that trust went down the drain.

This thought, too, was quelled by reason when my friends sent me copies of the spam and stated they knew this wasn’t me. I wished evil upon the hacker but then surmised that I couldn’t wish more trouble and turmoil in the hacker’s brain than already exists there now.

Thanks for trusting that you know me so well…because you really do.

Just received a disturbing report from the Association of Arizona Food Banks titled:

“Wonder What Hunger Costs Us?
New Research Calculates The Staggering Tab”

One fact included in the write up states that “In Arizona, our tab is nearly $4 billion, a 35% increase over 2007 and the 12th largest increase of any state.”

Click on the link below to read the entire report. (Notice the guy standing in the food line, he could be any one of us.) New research from the Center for American Progress.

Something is Happening at the Arroyo Chico Apartments
For a couple of years now I have had a couple of Arroyo Chico neighbors participate in One Can A Week. Suddenly, now there are four apartments in a row hanging donations on their doorknobs or placing cans on their stoops. Guess its just neighbors helping neighbors to step up.

We collected a total of 198 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $34.50, a $25.00 check and $9.50 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, October 3, 2011

143rd Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
We are the same size …
but we keep on growing

Click on to enlarge.

With the economy yet on the skids—accounting for more and more hungry families to feed—we still moved ahead of last year’s third quarter totals. When we compare the 2010 Third Quarter figures with this year’s results below, we ended up collecting 553.5 lbs. more food and donating $94.58 more cash. We just get better with each passing week!

Also, I'd like to give a special thanks to Barbara Farragut on 12th Street who collected over 256 lbs. of fresh produce in the past three months.

Hungry as a Horse
That’s the first thing Jacob Coldsmith, the Logistics Manager at the Community Food Bank said when he laid eyes on the stuffed carousel pony. My neighbor on Santa Rita had no more room for him at his inn so he wanted to donate the critter to the food bank. Would I take him? Of course, he’s a horse, and some little kid will love him to pieces.

We collected a total of 170 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $90.50, a $25.00 check and $65.50 in cash.

See you Sunday,