Monday, February 27, 2012

164th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
Blame It On Tupperware
An early scene from the riveting American Experience documentary
Tupperware that aired on PBS recently.
Some weeks ago, I saw the Tupperware documentary on PBS and cannot stop thinking about it. I was 10-years-old at the time the story begins so I saw the whole thing happen. But I had no idea Tupperware was a major catalyst in the women’s struggle for equality nor a primary factor in the demise of community life.

The revelation came to me much the same way as those that are the hallmark of TV detective shows like The Closer and Monk. A character says something that appears to be a complete non sequitur but suddenly everything comes together and makes perfect sense.

On Friday while reading a myriad of stories on the Republican campaign, one phrase popped out at me, “they would like to go back to one-income households.” With all of those fresh images in my mind from the Tupperware documentary, I finally understood what probes, no contraception, no healthcare, and men only on a women’s health care issues panel means. These unevolved individuals want to subjugate women again. I lived through that whole, very disturbing period of history. Never again.

So what does this have to do with food? Well, it is Tupperware. A burping product that not only made things easier for women in the kitchen, but also gave them a way to leave through a brightly lit front door into the world of business and self-support.

The downside of diminished community involvement is easily remedied and One Can A Week has proved this Sunday after Sunday. If one goes to the homes of these very busy, multi-tasking women, they are always willing to help important causes like hungry citizens.

I strongly suggest you spend 50 minutes to view the Tupperware documentary. You will see how much women have evolved in the past 60 years and how much men in and out of power have not.

A Few More Important
One Can A Week Folks

Breakfast BuddiesThis week’s donations turned out to be mostly fruit and cereal. Fascinating how folks get the same idea even without talking to one another.

We collected a total of 192 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $34.50, a $25.00 check and $9.50 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

163rd Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
Why I Help Feed the Hungry

Photo By Jill Torrance, New York Times photographer
The regular breakfast crowd slid by my display table at the Rincon Market this past Saturday morning, some nodded, some dropped a bill or two in the collection plate. We know each other by sight but not by name. It’s been like that for two years now.

A gentleman dressed in his usual expensive business-casual attire—a standout in the mix of sweat pants and tee shirts in various stages of decomposition—took out his billfold and also as usual, extracted a dollar bill and dropped it on the plate. Then he introduced his brother-in-law who stood next to him. The brother-in-law looked somewhat older so I imagined the gentleman had an older sister.

The conversation quickly turned to the plight of the hungry here in Tucson. The brother-in-law was startled to learn that about 250,000 parents and their kids out of about a million people are affected. To keep their interest I mentioned that business folks were not helping build a strong workforce for their kids and grand kids because the hungry kids now in school are undernourished and their brains and bodies are not developing as they should.

“There’s some long term planning that has to be done,” the gentleman said taking his brother-in-law’s elbow and coaxing him toward the coffee counter.

“Long term planning?” I thought, my eyes narrowing. “What about the parents who are also hungry … even more so probably? What about their productivity now? What about their mental state now?”

Those words never made it out of my head. But something else did occur to me. I was trying to tailor my statements to motivate them to respond. Business folks might view the problem as it relates to them and the next generation of business owners … perhaps even their own kids … and maybe they may do something about it other then leave a mess to clean up.

Then my thoughts turned personal. Why do I do this every week? Why do I care? I’m no do-gooder and I certainly don’t like joining anything.

The closest I’ve ever been to being hungry as a kid was when my folks forgot to buy the groceries one time and my three brothers and I had to have white bread and molasses for breakfast. The memory of that stinging flavor still makes me crinkles my face and shake my head.

Then there were a few time in the early days of authoring in New York City where I had to think of some clever accounting approaches to wangle a little more advance money out of my publishers. But I never skipped a meal.

My religious background is Catholic, however about my 21st birthday I decided to quit. My motivation was my total disdain for suffering. And anyway, by that time, all of the great men and women who had come before me had laid out all of the advice I would ever needed to run the gauntlet of life. Plato, Confucius, Martin Luther King, Jr., Jesus, Margaret Mead, Descartes, Eleanor Roosevelt, Mohammad, Socrates, and so on, succinctly described the best path to follow.

My favorite adage, of course, is “Do unto others…” because that’s the only rule anyone ever needs. I’m also fond of brevity.

All of these elements are part of my person and persona. However, the essence of my being is I am an idea person. With One Can A Week, I thought of a very simple and fun way to eliminate hunger in America. One neighbor helps one hundred or so neighbors to help thousands of needy families. And all I have to do is spend three hours a week picking up the food and cash donations.

Piece of cake! And that’s why I do it. My neighbors and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel for hunger in America. Will others like me step up? Who knows? But one thing is for sure, the neighbors are ready, willing and able to help if they do.

A Couple More Important
One Can A Week Folks

Axis is Back
Maen, owner of the Axis Food Mart and his customers donate to the Community Food Bank at the close of nearly every sale. Last Friday Maen decided to count the change and ended up with enough money to buy 10 cases of 32 oz. Gatorade that weighed in at 272 lbs. Next time you visit the Axis Food Mart, thank Maen and drop a few pennies or dimes in the Food Bank Bucket. It does add up.

We collected a total of 466 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $33.65, a $25.00 check and $8.65 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

162nd Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Growing Like A Tree
Slow and steady progress in the second year of
the Miles School One Can A Week program

Each branch on the One Can A Week Tree represents a grade and its success in collecting food for the Community Food Bank. Each leaf accounts for 10 lbs. of donated food.
Rebecca Lipson, the Miles Exploratory Learning Center middle school science teacher told me today—with a huge smile on her face—that their One Can A Week program is running very smoothly and takes very little effort on anyone’s part.

One student or class coordinator collects food from one class and enters the information in the log book. To incorporate as much learning as possible into the process, each class coordinator calculates the number of pounds by reading the labels and adding up the posted weights. Rebecca said many students did not know how many ounces were in a pound, but they sure do now.

Also, she mentioned that the collection, record keeping and calculations highlight real world project management skills. Each class coordinator participates in all aspects of the project so he or she can fully understands what it takes to make something happen.

Last semester, which ended in December, the total donations collected by Rebecca’s class amounted to 937 lbs. of food and $247 in cash.

Imagine if every school in Tucson had its own One Can A Week program. Then imagine the compassionate world those kids would build.

At the end of the school semester, Rebecca sends
all parents an update on the progress of their
One Can A Week program.
The log book is where the class coordinator enters the weight
for the food collected and the cash donations.

One Can A Week Jersey Style

No, it did not snow in Tucson. This is a photo of Hannah, Ari Kaplan’s six-year-old daughter collecting food in their New Jersey neighborhood. If you remember, back in late November Ari sent an email to me describing his Sunday One Can A Week adventure with Hannah.

“She is so excited when there is a can waiting (as am I) and was very proud to donate the bags of food that she personally collected. In fact, she often lets me know how much of the work she does -- cutting the notes, writing her name, leaving the notes, writing down the contents, etc. :) I hope we can keep up the momentum over the winter (which was brutal last year).”

Looks like Hannah and her dad would be stiff competition for any mail carrier out there when it comes to those “appointed rounds.”

Still More Important
One Can A Week Folks

Keeping Everyone Healthy
One of our neighbors was sent home from work Sunday because she was coming down with a cold. However, I still wanted a photo of her holding the plate with her husband at her side.

Fortunately, that was the last photo on Miles so I quickly drove to Lenny’s house to pick up the 12th Street donations. After I loaded the car, I asked him if I could wash the plate and my hands. He said yes and assured me he had all kinds of soap and disinfectants in his kitchen. My kind of guy!

A few minutes later, I had no qualms about handing the plate to another neighbor for a photo. Thanks, Lenny.

We collected a total of 180 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $33.50, a $25.00 check and $8.50 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, February 6, 2012

161st Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
1,500 People,
Working Just Three Hours a Week,
Could End Hunger in Tucson
And Make a $1.5 Million Profit to Boot.

This is no pipe dream. It’s clear-eyed extrapolation based on the success of One Can A Week in the Miles Neighborhood over the past three years.

Last week I was wondering aloud during a computer lesson with Dorrie, my talented writer friend, why I can’t find people in other neighborhoods to get involved collecting food.

Dorrie thought a second and said, “This may not be appropriate in polite company but I think people should earn their Community Food Bank food.”

In the next instant a news story I saw about a year or so ago popped into my head. It showed a guy at the food bank who was young, had no job and was volunteering. He said that since he needed food he thought he would work at the food bank to help pay his way.

“That’s the guy I’m looking for, Dorrie,” I smiled. In my mind, food recipients were off limits, but if that guy is any indication, I’m sure others feel the same way. In fact, I have a number of participants in the neighborhood who tell me all of the time that they are happy to help me because they needed the Community Food Bank once and they just want to give back.

This opened a door to a whole new way of thinking for me and I created a program called The Red Umbrella Corps that hires people each Sunday and pays them $30 for three hours of work.

Since our One Can A Week experience shows that we average 229 lbs. and $50.18 per week, the program could be hugely successful.

But don’t take my word for it. Just do the math. All of the figures are in the table below. Then give me a call because I sure would like to talk about this.

More Important One Can A Week Folks
Still More Photos of Important
One Can A Week Folks
Coming Soon
A Bit Distracted
We took more pictures this Sunday, helped a new neighbor move into their new home andcollected food, of course. It wasn’t until Monday at the food bank that I realized we had quite a haul.

We collected a total of 228 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $104.50, a $25.00 check and $79.50 in cash.

See you Sunday,