Monday, July 16, 2012

184th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
Just a small change will work
Mayor Jonathan Rothschild
Food Comes to Call
Rosa Parks stood up just by sitting down. I think about that a lot. A small, almost imperceptible gesture or change in the path of the rushing river of human behavior can alter its course forever.
Whenever I present One Can A Week I keep telling folks, just do a little and just do what is easy and natural.

On Thursday, Dot Kret and I met with Mayor Jonathan Rothschild in his conference room. Karla Avales-Soto, a Mayor’s Aide, greeted us at the front desk and led the way. At 10 am sharp Mayor Rothschild entered and sat at the head of the table which was about 5 feet from where he entered.

His demeanor was very friendly and yet controlled. We got right to business. After explaining a little bit about One Can A Week I handed him our Community Food Bank plate poster which he perused throughout the meeting. He knows our neighborhood and a number of our neighbors.

“What can I do to help?” Mayor Rothschild asked.

For weeks I had thought long and hard about that question I knew he’d ask. And it wasn’t until the day before the meeting that I had an idea. On the way home I stopped at Dot’s office to get her reaction.

“How about if the mayor puts a huge Community Food Bank collection box in his office and he makes it know that everyone who comes to a meeting in his office is encouraged to bring a can of food. Do you know how many people he meets with? Do you know how powerful most of those folks are?

Dot liked the idea immediately. And to my surprise, so did the mayor when I told him.

“Get me 30 boxes by early this afternoon, he said.

I was startled and had a difficult time listening to his directive and writing a note to myself at the same time. Flustered is perhaps a better word.

I did not even have a change to explain to him the second half of the idea when he jumped into the conversation. 30 boxes … holy cow!

What I finally said was since he is the top government executive and he gets to meet in his office with all of the other business and government executives in the city, perhaps he can ask them to do what he is doing. His goal will be to eliminate hunger in Tucson from the top down.

As I delivered the boxes with Miguel’s help from the Food Bank a young lady stopped to says she is going to start donating one can a week at the office. I told her so will most of the visitors.

“What happens if they forget? she wondered.

“Well,” I replied, “the mayor might say, ‘You know, I don’t hear very well if there is no food.’ ”

She gave a hearty laugh and walked away gesturing “go away” with her hand.

In the late afternoon as the excitement I was feeling began to wane I got my thoughts together about what had just happened. Then as etiquette dictates, I sent Mayor Rothschild my impressions of our meeting.

“The most enjoyable and exciting aspect of our meeting this morning was trying to catch all of the workable ideas you were tossing out on the table. I thought I was back in New York City where the game is played that way all of the time. I sure miss those heady days in the Big Apple but I now know where to go when I need to rev up my brain.”

With Mayor Rothschild helping our One Can A Week program—in a small, Rosa Parks way by simply encouraging other top executives to follow his lead—he could and probably will end hunger here in Tucson. We think about food all of the time because that is what creatures on this planet do. If Mayor Rothschild has his way, we will be thinking about food for hungry families and their children all of the time, too.

Business is the business of America
and the best way to solve our social ills.

John Abbott, the son of Ron Abbott, the owner of the Rincon Market is the man in charge of the grocery side of the business. For the past year he has been tweaking product pricing and even added new low price lines to stimulate business.

Our deal is he allows One Can A Week to collect money at the cash register and in turn, we buy food for the Community Food Bank in his grocery store. John just told me Saturday that One Can A Week has helped him weather the recession with our weekly purchases—between $102 and $160—and these sales encouraged him to rethink his product line to attract more student business.

He added Goya beans, pasta, rice and vegetables, quality products that cost around $1.00 each. This is what I buy mostly and it gives me more poundage for the buck. Last year the Rincon Market donated over 4,000 lbs. This year they are heading for 5,500 lbs.

John is currently looking at ordering other low-cost products and reducing prices on standard items he carries. In the beginning, the Abbott Family just wanted to help feed hungry families and their kids. Today, feeding those families is part of their business strategy and they are currently creating a better way to feed even more families.

Business really is the answer to solving many of society’s problems and now John and his family are showing us how it’s done.

One Can A Week is Contagious
Delia, who lives in the Arroyo Chico apartments, asked to participate in One Can A Week a couple of years ago. Turns out Frank, her close friend across the street encouraged her.

One Sunday some time later all of Delia’s close neighbors were outside when I showed up and after asking what was going on, they too, decided to participate. (The red umbrellaed Cabriolet helped pique their curiosity, of course.)

Now we have five Arroyo Chico families hanging a bag of food on their door knob every Sunday.

We collected a total of 188 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $56.00, two $25.00 checks and $6.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


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