Monday, August 27, 2012

190th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
Food Facts That’ll Definitely Make You Crazy

“For the average U.S. household of four, food waste translates into
an estimated $1,350 to $2,275 in annual losses.”

“40% of food in the United States today goes uneaten.” This means all
the food to the right of the white line in this photo is scraped into the
garbage can.
We are called a “Consumer Society” when in reality the moniker “Wasteful Society” would be more accurate with our penchant to buy everything in sight. My dad used to coax us into moderation by saying “our eyes were bigger than our stomachs” when we’d do anything to access. Even to this day I look at everything I buy through a need/want filter. But that’s not the norm for most Americans.

A recent report by the National Resources Defense Council, an international nonprofit environmental organization headquartered in New York City, took a hard look at the waste in our food chain from the “field to the fork” and it is not a pretty picture. Here’s some of the information they compiled:

· 10% of our US energy budget is used to get raw food to the table;
· 50% of our US land is tied up in food production; and
· 80% of our US freshwater in used to process food.

Then 40% of all that food ends up in a landfill as the single largest solid waste component creating nearly 25% of US methane emissions.

It’s a sobering and depressing report but the NRDC does offer a ray of hope—in the 1970s, some 40 year ago, we wasted far less food—and an array of solutions beginning with simply understanding the difference between the “use by” and “best by” stamp on most of our food packaging.

The volume of data and information in the report may be numbing but the point is quite simple. We’re out of control. To confirm this assessment, all you have to do is look in your garage. So much stuff that just takes up space. Homes are too big; SUVs and trucks are too big, even the plates in many restaurants are too big. And with so much stuff to manage and take care of, we have very little time to think … the most important thing we do as humans.

Read the short, 26-page report and get a grasp of what is literally eating up your life and your family’s life. Stuff. So much stuff.

Then consider what you need … think time mostly, and more time with the kids, more money in your savings account, a smaller more manageable homestead … and then pick one to start the ball rolling. Yes, we are a “Consumer Society” here in the US and that’s a good thing, but when your “eyes are bigger than your stomach,” now that’s a bad thing.

Invisible neighbors
Nearly 50% of all property in Tucson is rental. That means many neighbors who have a vested interest in our neighborhood aren’t accessible. However, it’s different with Jarrett Reidhead
of Tucson Integrity Realty LLC. He owns or manages three properties here in Miles and he is stepping up.

Jarrett is even participating in One Can A Week, donating food for all three properties. And at our September 19th meeting he wants to introduce himself to all of us and ask how he can help.

Well, for starters, he’s helping us a lot right now just by making himself available.

We collected a total of 186 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $70.00, a $50.00 check and $20.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, August 20, 2012

189th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
Blame it on the Refrigerator
When everyone’s food went bad, we were a little nicer to each other.

A Google search for “Ayn Rand philosophy in a nutshell” turned up a great article by Jesse Larner called The Sinister Folly of Ayn Rand. And I only had to read five paragraphs into it to get the condensed version I needed … and could tolerate.

Mr. Larner wrote,”In her insistence that she owed nothing to the state, nothing to any human being other than herself, Rand epitomized the kind of childishness shown by libertarians who insist that they have every legal and moral right to own as many guns as they please, pay no taxes, educate their children at home, and live free of any law except those governing, in the most direct manner, their own security and that of their neighbors.”

For providing me with such a succinct overview, I decided, out of respect, to read the rest of the article. Mr. Learner talked a lot about community and mentioned that for more than 8,000 years beginning with the advent of agriculture, we humans shared our food. Since there was no refrigeration, it was the smartest way to assure the next meal. If someone had food everyone in the clan or tribe had food. “The best place to store food was in the bodies and minds of others,” Mr. Learner explained.

This idea about refrigeration made me curious which provoked another Google search. The home refrigerator was invented by Kalvinator and Frigidaire around the turn of the 20th Century, so in just 98 years we seem to have forgotten all about our 8,000 years of sharing food with others.

Up With Chris Hayes – Chris Hayes and Tanya Wells.
 On Sunday, as luck would have it, a segment on Up With Chris Hayes featured Tanya Wells, a young woman who along with her husband brought home $100,000 a year before the recession. They both lost their jobs in shrinking industries and ended up on public assistance. She was bright, articulate and was using every bit of her intellect to remedy her situation.

Of course, now earning only about $18,000 a year she was standing in line with other “poor” people at state agencies looking for help. Tanya was struck by the fact that they, too, were struggling but they had no idea how to get out of their dilemma. They had no plan; they had no knowledge as she did.

Tanya called them the “forgotten poor” which she admitted she never considered when thing were going well for her family. That lack of empathy for those less fortunate is changing in Tanya’s life. She said she is going to help herself and her family get back to the middle class and then go back to those agencies to show others how to plan and improve their lot in life.

How is it possible for something—we humans did for 8,000 years together—to just disappear as life gets a bit easier? Twenty five percent of our kids in school are hungry. How hard is it to ask around to see if maybe one or two families could be helped? Especially if thing are going well for your family. As with Tanya, things were going well until they weren’t. To paraphrase Mr. Learner, “The best place to store food is in the bodies and minds of others,” not refrigerators.

Beautiful Duplex
Often that phrase is an oxymoron, but the two new apartments on the corner of Miles and Cherry really are beautiful. The nasty eye-sore they replaced shows what can be done with a little imagination. I met the new residence Sunday, Dillon who lives with two of her girlfriends and Jack. Even though they live next door to each other they had not met yet so I took care of that in short order.

They all are students at the U of A and agreed to participate in One Can A Week. That makes the place even more beautiful.

We collected a total of 186 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $33.00, a $25.00 check and $8.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, August 13, 2012

188th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Karla Avalos-Soto, Community Outreach Advocate in the Mayor’s office reports that seven Community Food Bank boxes were given to the Youth Task Force and three to Habitat for Humanity this past week. That brings the total to 15 boxes in two weeks. View list of participants in the right column.
Giving Just Desserts

Every Saturday Barbara Farragut or her partner in sweets, Lenny Cota-Robles stops by the Busy Bee Bakery at 6781 N. Thornydale to pick up the bakery’s mouth watering goodies donation for the Community Food Bank.
 Barbara Farragut, our 12th Street neighbor and One Can A Week volunteer just does things for people because, well, things just show up in her life. Barbara is a retired Registered Nurse and a business manager. The nurse part let’s her help her family and friends with their medical needs so for all intents and purposes she is really not a retired nurse. Even Lenny, her friend from across the street, benefitted from her medical know how when he came down with a terrible case of the flu a few months ago.

Barbara drives folks to the hospital for tests and treatments and even waits for them until they are ready to go home.

Lenny, also a One Can A Week volunteer helps
Barbara, a long-time neighbor and friend
collect food on 12th Street every Sunday.
That’s comforting for both Barbara and her “patients” as it were. The management part of her personality lets her get so much done while just sitting in medical reception area thinking and reading her favorite books.

When she heard that the Busy Bee Bakery wanted to donate, Barbara eagerly spoke up, “I drive right by there on my way to and from Northwest Hospital every week so I can pick it up.” Now a few of the 250,000 folks the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona serves every month get a special treat from one of the best cake bakeries in town.

A couple of years ago Barbara asked a convenience store she visits every Sunday if she could have their older bananas to donate to the Food Bank. They agreed and since then she has helped them contribute over 500 lbs. of produce a quarter.

As mentioned in the beginning, Barbara does things to help people because the opportunities just present themselves. And apparently, Barbara never met an opportunity she didn’t like.

The next time you see Barbara scoot by in her navy blue PT Cruiser, she is going to or coming from helping somebody. What a world it would be—if like Barbara—we all drove around with love in our hearts.

Pony Express Switcheroo By happenstance I met John from 13th Street in the parallel left turn lanes on Campbell. We were both heading west on Broadway.

Before the light changed, we smiled and I said, “I’m here to pick up you can.”

“Sorry, I don’t have any,” John replied. “No, wait, here you go.” He quickly checked the traffic, set his brake, jumped out of his truck and handed me a can of black beans through my open window.

We laughed, the arrow turned green and we both drove safely through the intersection. Not going to do that again, I promised myself.

We collected a total of 149 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $33.00, a $25.00 check and $8.00 in cash.


See you Sunday

Monday, August 6, 2012

187th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
PICOR is first to donate to
Mayor Rothschild’s
Personal Community Service Program
Rebecca Fuentes, the HR/Office Manager at PICOR told me right away that the Community Food Bank box was about half full before Friday’s drive to kick off Mayor Rothschild’s One Can A Meeting program. (They had a food drive sometime earlier but had not turned in the food yet.) No matter because it’s a great example of how much one box helps needy folks in Tucson.

The food weighed 154 lbs. At 1.3 lbs. per meal, those 154 lbs. will feed 118 folks one meal. In addition, PICOR’s $102.92 cash donation is equivalent to $977.74 in food and services based on the Food Bank’s $1.00 = $9.50 purchasing power. (See CFB receipt blow.)

On these hot days, the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona box being situated next to the water cooler is a smart idea. At least six people needed hydration while I moved the food to my hand truck. However, starting next week the box will be near the multiple meeting rooms when Ms. Fuentes begins collecting One Can A Meeting.

Simply elegant.

At the end of a strikingly understated and gracious hallway is Mark Cole’s office, the Managing Director of the Arizona Theatre Company. Actually it is a fitting environment considering what he does for a living most days, and nights, too, for that matter.

So when Mayor Rothschild asked Mr. Cole to participate in his personal community service program, Mr. Cole said yes and then turned the coordination of the program over to Ann Barringer, his Executive Assistant/Board Relations Manager.

We met Thursday and Ms. Barringer had already placed a notice in the upcoming employee newsletter explaining One Can A Week. After our conversation about how to really engage the staff in Mr. Cole’s personal community service program, she placed the Community Food Bank box near Mr. Cole’s office before I left.

There is no doubt that the Arizona Theatre Company staff will participate in Mr. Cole’s food donation program especially with the added incentive of getting to go upstairs weekly to visit the charming executive suite.

Check Chasing
To keep the check from getting soaked in my pocket this particularly hot and humid Sunday, I place the envelope in front of instead of behind my glasses. Then twenty minutes later I noticed the envelope was gone.

Since there were very few people out in the noon day sun, I wasn’t too worried as I retraced my route. Councilman Fimbres was just getting home from a grocery shopping trip. That is why he wasn’t home when I stopped by earlier, I thought. He waved as I passed on my way to the first home I visited after picking up the check. Nope not there.

I drove up Miles once more and Councilman Fimbres waved again, but this time to stop me so he could hand me his weekly donation. I thanked him and got back in my car.

“Where is that darn check?” I asked out loud. Then I saw it, still folded up on the dirt sidewalk right next to Councilman Fimbres’ home. Well, I guess folks are right, if you need something to happen, get Councilman Fimbres involved.

We collected a total of 169 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $40.50, a $25.00 check and $15.50 in cash.

See you Sunday,