Monday, December 30, 2013

260th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

We Fed Over 33,000 Kids and Their Parents* Three Meals in One Day

The last cans and the last dollars collected in the Miles Neighborhood for 2013 were turned over to the Community Food Bank today. Today also marks our Fifth One Can A Week Anniversary.

The numbers fluctuate a bit but remain quite consistent over the years. Even through the rough economy the dollars hung in there, too. And yes, we fed thousands of people but the most important aspect is OUR consistency and what we are proving to the world. We—you, me, Barbara, Lenny, Kym and Anna and her family—haven’t skipped a beat for 260 straight weeks. And, equally as important, we account for 50% of our generous neighborhood.

I am very proud to be your neighbor and very proud to help you help so many more neighbors in need.

Have a Happy New Year and thank you very much.

*Here’s the math:
Food Donations to folks fed - 59,859.5 lbs. ÷ 3 meals ÷ 1.3 lbs. per meal = 15,348 folks.

Cash Donations to pounds - $13,293.12 x $9.00 (food bank buying power) ÷ $2.25 per meal x 1.3 lbs. per meal = 69,124 lbs.

Cash pounds to folks fed - 69,124 lbs. ÷ 3 meals ÷ 1.3 lbs. per meal = 17,724 folks.

Folks fed - 15,348 + 17,724 = 33,072 folks  

Not Even Their First Anniversary Yet

Judi and Merv Wingard who run the One Can A Week program at the Academy Village in Vail sent me their 2013 year-end results Saturday. They collected 905 lbs. of food and $2,357.50 in cash.

In February Judi and Merv will celebrate their first One Can A Week anniversary. Imagine how much food and money they will collect in 2014 when they have all 12 months to tally up.

19th Truck Load
It’s only fitting that we end the year with the Chevy S10 filled to the brim again. As you know, the pickup was donated to One Can A Week in January and over the past 12 months it has hauled tons and tons of food to the Community Food Bank. It truly is one of those gifts that keep on giving.

This week’s donations amounted to 556 lbs. and included River View Estates, 22 lbs.;  Sprouts (Speedway), 82 lbs.; Sprouts (Oracle), 124 lbs. and Miles Neighborhood, 328 lbs.

Sprouts Weekly Update

The Axis Canister Strikes Again
Dian Scott from the Shiva Vista Neighborhood dropped off her donation a week ago and said, “Look, Wal-Mart has these neat Libby’s four-can vegetable packs and they only cost $2.00 a piece.”

Seconds after I told Maen Mdanat at the Axis Food Mart Dian’s news he reached into his One Can A Week collection can and handed me $74.00 which purchased 160 lbs. of nicely designed vegetable packs.

We collected a total of 328 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $37.00, a $25.00 check and $12.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, December 23, 2013

259th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,

Now One Can A Week is at
Sprouts on Oracle

The table was set up at 2 pm on Wednesday and by 3 pm we had our first donation. A woman dropped $2.00 in the basket a few seconds after reading the large sign in front of the table.

Over the next four hours folks stopped by to chat and said they were excited to see food collections for the Community Food Bank in their Sprouts. One woman promised to bring donations from home. I told here to just put it in the bin on her next visit to the store. She replied, “Oh, no, I have too much for the bin.”

Too much is always good I told her. She can stack it all around the bin and the staff will gladly help her.

Where the table is currently located, customers have to buy the food and then walk back into the store to hand it to me. Even this little inconvenience didn’t dampen their desire to participate. We collected 26 lbs. which is really great for the first day. Richard Rodriguez, the new Oracle store manager said we will build the program just as we did at Speedway by making small changes over time to meet the needs of the customers.

What a great way for One Can A Week to greet the New Year.  

Dollar for Dollar Match...up to $110,000  
Four local families to match
online donations until December 31, 2013.

On Thursday Jack Parris, the Public Relations Manger at the Community Food Bank sent me an email.

"HI Peter:  I don’t want to infringe on “One Can a Week”, but would it be possible for you to mention the Holiday Challenge (release attached) in your blog for the next two weeks?  You don’t have to repeat the whole release, just the highlights.

"If this is not possible, I understand.

"Thank you for your consideration.


Jack’s in PR and I understand he has to dance a bit with most folks, but when it comes to the Community Food Bank he can just tell us to do something and it will get done.

The four local families: The Jim Click Family Foundation, Jim and Sandy Peebles, Barry and Janet Lang and The Chen/Chow family suggest people donate online to the Community Food Bank and they will match those donations dollar for dollar up to $110,000. My first thought was how about checks and cash like I get? They have a phone number (520) 882-3296 if you don’t have access to the Internet so I called it.

Liz Westrick answered and she said checks and cash are good, too. You just have to call or go see Liz and those cash and check donations will become part of the challenge. So guess who I handed over our $71.00 to when I got to the Food Bank today? And guess who got $71.00 more dollars from those generous families?

Thanks, Jack, for getting One Can A Week into the challenge but you don’t have to be so nice next time. Just tell us what to do … you’re the Food Bank for heavens sakes. 

Lots More Food and a Blanket, Too
Dot Kret of DKA Associates called Sunday night to see if I could take more food to the food bank. Silly question?

She just had a party and asked everyone to bring some food. The party goers decided “some” was just not enough. They ended up with 46 lbs. (not including the blanket). Add that to the normal weekly DKA Associates donation and this week’s total reached 78 lbs., a record.

We collected a total of 214 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $71.00, $55.00 in checks and $16.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, December 16, 2013

258th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
Gaining Momentum
Here, Vail and New Jersey, too.

Can tree in Millburn, New Jersey
captures the holiday spirit.
Photo by Ari Kaplan
Millburn, New Jersey
For most of my career I chased a “hit” not “bucks”. The allure is a hit seldom happens but when it does there is nothing like the experience of creating something that million upon millions of folks like. A greeting card line, a TV show, lots of books, and a USB pet ID tag top the list of my creative forays into Hitsville. Things sold but never really took off. The greeting card line was close. Unfortunately the Japanese market crashed just as we were getting started in the country and that crushed our chances.

Now the one idea that makes no money—but is turning out to be the best reward ever—helps feed thousands upon thousands of hungry kids and their parents. That idea, One Can A Week is making noises just like it may be a “hit”.

Photo by Ari Kaplan
Ari Kaplan and his daughter Hannah are moving into new territory. In an email earlier in the week Ari wrote: “As you know, for the past two years, Hannah and I have been collecting cans in our neighborhood.  We have about 20 homes on our list and usually pick up about 10 cans each Sunday. Every few weeks, we drop off the cans at the local Red Cross food pantry at a church nearby.

“A few weeks ago, I made a presentation to the Wyoming Elementary School PTO (Parent Teachers Organization) and the principal at our elementary school suggesting that we expand the program to the school and encourage children to bring in a can every week. I promised to take care of all of the logistics - e.g., buying the clear plastic bins and taking the cans to the pantry, with Hannah's help, of course. In our first week alone, we collected over 40 cans from the school program (essentially quadrupling our weekly numbers) and we made the attached can tree, which seemed to have a holiday image to it :)

“I mentioned it to the PTO president at another school and hope to expand it even further in 2014.”

Academy Village in Vail, Arizona
Merv and Judi Wingard are approaching their one year One Can A Week anniversary with some very good news. On December 3rd I received a call from Mark Tate, a volunteer at Greater Vail Community Services Branch of Catalina Community Services. He wanted to know if their newly opened branch of the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona in Vail could be the drop off point for the Academy Village donations. The answer is yes, of course, In our meeting on the 27th, we will discuss Academy Village donations and more important, how to expand One Can A Week into schools and other communities in Vail. Great way to start the New Year.

Old Ft. Lowell Neighborhood
A couple of week back Frank Flash replied to my post on gratitude. He wrote: “Attacks of Gratitude captures a feeling that is hard to describe but is so fulfilling. I was on my way to a model railroad club meeting on Sunday and I think I saw you in your truck going West on Broadway. I think I am going to need a truck soon as the volume of food people are giving is growing. We have 14 HOA's working with us in the Old Fort Lowell Neighborhood. It is starting to become a bit competitive between the HOA champions (participants).

The 18th Truck Load
Next week there will be another Sprouts on the donation list. After meeting with Richard Rodriguez the new manager of Sprouts- North Oracle we decided to set up One Can A Week on Wednesdays (coupon day). This means a new donation bin, new signage and a whole bunch of new participants. Yes!        
This week’s donations amounted to 570 lbs. and included River View Estates, 110 lbs.;  Sprouts (Speedway), 78 lbs.; Miles School, 188 lbs., and Miles Neighborhood, 194 lbs.

Chub is Back
My last stop on E. Manlove Street near S. Cherry Street is the Ellinwood Family. As I got out of my truck a scruffy looking orange tabby cat crossed the road in front of me. He (I guessed his gender because my vet says 80% of orange tabbies are male) slowed down and began meowing as soon as he hit the driveway. “Is that Al’s cat?” I muttered aloud. We thought we lost him to a rogue dog or coyote weeks ago.

It was, matted hair and all. I scooped him up and drive him to Al’s home immediately and called Al, who is still in the hospital, right after finishing my route. A happy day for all three of us.   

We collected a total of 194 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $36.00, a $25.00 check and $11.00 in cash. 

See you Sunday,


Monday, December 9, 2013

257th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Why We Believe One Can A Week
Will End Hunger
The "We" includes volunteers and participants

Right from the beginning, One Can A Week had a duel purpose: Collect food for the Community Food Bank and engage as many people as possible in the struggle to feed hungry parents and their kids. (The statistics that follow are all approximates based on current information available.)

There are 313 million Americans and 15% or 46 million folks are food insecure. They are not sure when or from where their next meal might be coming. This means 267 million people are in various stages of being food secure, depending on how much money they have in their checking accounts.

Those 267 million people are One Can A Week’s market. And based on the participation rates in the Miles Neighborhood, there is a likelihood that 133.5 million or 50% of the country’s population will eventually participate in a One Can A Week program either in a neighborhood or at local supermarket. This might mean, with one can weighing one pound, we could collect 133.5 million pounds of food a week. At the end of 52 week we would have nearly 7 billion pounds of food.

Add that to the 2.57 billion Feeding America collected in 2012 and we will have almost 10 billion pounds of food.

On the hungry side of the equation, the 46 million food insure Americans (kids and their parents) require over 65 billion pounds of food a year to make three nutritious meals a day.  Here’s the math: 46 million x 3 meals a day x 1.3 lbs. per meal = 179.4 million pounds per day x 365 days.)

Even if we covered just one meal a day, that would be 21.6 billion pounds, nowhere near the amount collected by Feeding America, One Can A Week in the future or the federal government’s billions of dollars spent on food programs.

Living Wage and Greed  

The underlying core of One Can A Week—collecting food weekly and creating community—is the real solution to poverty and hunger in America. The more citizens engage in making our country into a land of opportunity for everyone, the more they will see that we must view the making of money as we do every other endeavor. If a person can throw a baseball (top executives included) we don’t chide him or her every second of the day about why he or she is not playing in the major leagues.

Yet if a person is cooking hamburgers in McDonalds or waiting tables at the Olive Garden—two very important jobs, by the way, especially if you are hungry—what sense does it make to say they should be earning more money when their wages are governed by minimums?

It is incredibly faulty logic to think that if one has the skill to do a task, such as throw a baseball, he or she should be a major league baseball player. The fact is, making really good money in any profession requires a finely honed set of skills and knowledge and it is no surprise that only 1% of our population can do that.

Our vision, our belief is, with millions of rich and poor citizens involved in One Can A Week, a logical and ethical community movement will emerge to encourage everyone to think that a living wage and so much less greed* is the only future our children and their children should inherit.

*To see and then understand how much greed is swallowing up our country, please click on the link to view the sobering video on the actual distribution of wealth in America.   

The 17th Truck Load
Sprouts passed a milestone Saturday. Their customers donated their first ton of food and it took just 22 weeks to reach that mark with an average weekly donation of 92.4 lbs. The donation this week was 100 lbs. even, so they are already heading for a record time to donate the next 2,000 lbs.
This week’s donations amounted to 514 lbs. and included River View Estates, 132 lbs.;  Sprouts (Speedway), 100 lbs.; Shiva Vista, 64 lbs.; Ward 6, 82 lbs. and Miles Neighborhood, 136 lbs.

More Sprouts News
Monday Sprouts Management in Phoenix rotated all the managers in the Tucson market. Richard Rodriguez is now at Oracle and Magee while Theresa Hippler from Broadway manages the Speedway supermarket.

After meeting Theresa on Thursday all my concerns were laid to rest. We’re happily pressing on and in a month or so she would like to see One Can A Week set up at Broadway. Now I know two great managers at Sprouts who like One Can A Week.

We collected a total of 136 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $33.25, a $25.00 check and $8.25 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

256th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
Attacks of Gratitude

So much food heading to the Community Food Bankmakes such a pretty picture no matter what the surroundings.
The attacks started back in 1992, the year I landed an improbable job as Design Director at Merrill Lynch corporate headquarters in Princeton, NJ.

A year or so earlier my world didn’t contain much optimism. The first Bush recession knocked the stuffings out of my design firm which I then handed over to a business associate and walked away. What followed were a number of minimum wage jobs that added to the distress. A typesetter would loose new accounts I brought on board by delivering error ridden gallies. “But they were delivered on time,” he’s remind me. After he lost MetLife, he lost me, too.

Then I worked for a consumer photo service for a month or so where the owner tried to make color corrections to the prints by reading the negative. Since colors are reversed on negatives; i.e., green prints red for instance, the error rate was 25% at the minimum. Money was being thrown in the waste paper basket at an alarming rate and I could not get anyone’s attention.

At the same time my blood pressure was a constant 140/90, wearing me down because my cardiovascular system was stuck in first gear. And I could feel every beat. Interestingly enough, many medical people and ordinary folks say they can’t. They aren’t paying enough attention I’m thinking.

Through a last ditch phone call to a gentleman named Rick Roach—whom I had met earlier in the Merrill Lynch lobby for a five or so minute sales presentation—the doors opened and I was able to turn my life around completely. But no matter how good things got I have never forgotten the dire situation I was in physically and mentally with absolutely no where to turn.

Maybe six months after I was well established at Merrill I was walking down the quarter mile opulent corridor to the in-house cafeteria when I got my first attack of gratitude. I was so grateful to be working in such a wonderful place I smiled and thought “Thank You.” Not to any particular person or thing, but just Thank You. It could be so much worse and my whole being recognized that fact at that singular moment.

Since then, those attacks happen often. The food stacked high next to my guest house elicited one this weekend. We are collecting so much food I just look at it and said Thank You. It’s like I’m two people. On one side collecting food is easy for me yet I look at that skill with amazement. How the heck does it happen?

On Saturday TED (the Technology, Education and Design web site) sent me an email with a video link to a talk by BrotherDavid Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk. His presentation was entitled “Want to be happy? Be grateful.”  Perhaps the most salient moment for me came when he suggested everyone should “live gratefully.” Fascinating. That is exactly what I am doing and I am happy. Things go up and down such as my truck dies, or I have little money to expand One Can A Week but I am still happy and have been so for five years now.

Sunday night I met my best friend Maen Mdanat at his store to pick up his neighborhood food collection. He explained all that happened to him and his children when he made his rounds earlier in the day. He, too, was good at gathering food and he felt delight in his heart. Maen had experienced what happens to me all of the time. He was very happy to help his neighbors help hungry kids.

Brother David is not wrong in his assessment. Now that I think about it gratitude is the key to happiness. I discovered this fact years ago by uttering a simple, quiet thank you every time I recognize my good fortune. Try it in place of a swear word when you experience your next close call. Then and there … that will be the start of your happiness.

16th Truck Load
Two dear friends, Kristin Broksas and Merle Stolar threw two wonderful Thanksgiving dinners and asked all of their guests to bring cans to their gatherings. When the donations were tallied including our Sunday collection the total was 344 lbs.

This week's donations amounted to 492 lbs. and included River View Estates, 78 lbs.; Sprouts (Speedway), 70 lbs.; and Miles Neighborhood, 344 lbs.

It Happened Again
For the third straight year, Lenny’s sister, Patricia Diane Cota-Robles gave us $500 to donate to the Community Food Bank. This is a wonderful gift and adds up to $4,500 when you consider the food bank’s $1.00 - $9.00 buying power.

We collected a total of 492 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $601.00, two checks for $550.00 and $51.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, November 25, 2013

255th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,

A Community Service Culture in the Making

We have all seen supermarkets help feed hungry families during the holidays with specially priced shopping bags of food their customers can purchase. But we’ve not seen anything like what just happened in the Sprouts Farmers Market on Speedway last week.

In addition to the One Can A Week program, Sprouts management introduced a $5.00 bag of food that contained a number of healthy items to create a couple of nourishing meals. They then placed them on the checkout stand for easy access. Within a few days the demand grew so great, Richard Rodriguez, the store manager, had to call the other Sprouts stores in town to get more shopping bags. They were able to help out because they were not selling as many bags as Richard.

How did they do it?  On Friday when I took the photo above, Richard and I had a few minutes to discuss the amazing situation. Studies reveal that companies with a strong community service commitment create a culture that brings out the best in their employees and their customers.

A couple of the cashiers were proving to be great at encouraging their customers to participate in the $5.00 bag program. The other cashiers saw what they were doing and followed suite. Suddenly all of the cashiers were making sales, even some multiple sales. “Give me 10 bags,” a lady said after checking out the mass of paper bags in the aisle and hearing what all the commotion was about.

Richard decided to display the bags going to the Community Food Bank up front to heighten the excitement—and equally important—make a statement. When management and staff work together to build a community service culture, there is not limit to the good that can be done for and by each and every customer.

In the mix, of course, is One Can A Week. Twelve weeks ago Richard and I introduced a low key and consistent community service program which has quietly built awareness. Even through all the excitement, customers were still dropping cans and packages goods in the bin surrounded by the $5.00 bags. The donations this week topped the bin and tipped the scales at 148 lbs.

After Thanksgiving there will be more shopping bags to purchase because there are just so many needy folks to help feed here in Tucson. Then in the New Year, One Can A Week will go back to what it does best. Keep customers and staff fully engaged in community service on a very pleasant and consistent basis. Of course we all want a better world so working community service into our culture will do just that...for everyone.

One Can A Week
Breaks into a Gated Community

Home Owner Associations in gated communities have many rules to maintain peace and quiet. No solicitation is at the top of the list. However, with so many families in trouble and the government cutting back on aid, Maen and his children decided to press the envelope a bit. They got permission to talk to their neighbors about One Can A Week at a neighborhood get together. Acceptance was pretty good.

Then two Sundays ago they started making the rounds to introduce the program to near by neighbors. Acceptance was pretty good there, too. This past Saturday Maen—relying on his marketing skills—posted a sign on the in and out gates telling folks he and the kids would stop by Sunday. To his surprise people he had not talked to yet put food out on their porches. Food was everywhere in his community and the kids went nuts. He told them they had to wait and pick it up in order or they would not remember the route for next Sunday.

In my first two weeks I collected around 40 lbs. of food for the Community Food Bank. In their first two weeks Maen, Petra, Rayah and Michael collected 242 lbs.

For the past few years Maen and I have been talking about ways to open up gated communities for One Can A Week. We knew they could make a significant difference in helping the needy in our city. Seems a sign on the gate every Saturday is the key along with a friendly group of kids knocking on neighbors’ doors.

The 15th Truck Load
On Monday there was nothing. Then by Sunday the truck was jammed. Not sure how that happens but I like it.

This week’s donations amounted to 630 lbs. and included Sheva Vista, 60 lbs.;  Sprouts (Speedway), 148 lbs.; Miles Neighborhood, 180 lbs. and River View Estates, 242 lbs. 

New CEO at the Community Food Bank
Michael McDonald, former Executive Director here in Tucson for Habitat for Humanity International (the U.S.’s 14th largest home builder) will join the food bank in January. Really looking forward to meeting him. Click on the link to read his very interesting bio.

We collected a total of 180 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $30.00, a $25.00 check and $5.00 in cash. 

See you Sunday,


Monday, November 18, 2013

254th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
The Lady Had No Interest

Around the third Saturday at Sprouts I began to notice the regulars. One lady in particular came in the east entrance with her walker, slowly passed my table with no expression on her face and gently lowered herself into an electric cart near the west entrance. This happened week after week with little eye contact and a nod now and again.

A week ago she stopped in front of the display table, smiled and announced she had forgotten to buy a can to donate. “That’s okay,” I said a bit surprised at the new found friendliness, “Next week I will have a sign on your cart to help remind you.”

This Saturday she came up behind me as I was attaching signs to the three electric carts. And of course, as the laws of happenstance dictate on this planet, she wanted the one I was working on. The two carts I had just finished—admittedly not as stylish—would not do.

“Finish what you are doing,” she said calmly, “I can wait.”

About a minute later I had the sign attached and stress tested, tugging firmly at each fastener before turning it over to her.

There’s kind of a general rule about shopping at supermarkets. For most folks it takes about 25 minutes to get in and out. At Sprouts, with all of the enticing food displays and the hands on picking and scooping, I have noticed that the in and out time is somewhere around 45 minutes. So I had forgotten about the lady in the electric cart when she drove up and handed me a can. “I remembered,” she said smiling.

The truth is I never thought she would be a One Can A Week participant. But Richard Rodriquez, the store manager is right. A pleasant display, respectful signage and a little time does it every time. Maybe that elderly couple who wear matching tee shirts will be next.  

A Shopper's Eye View

Any time you invent something it takes a lot of testing to determine if your product will survive normal usage. I often I think about automobiles and what engineers have to do to compensate for that inevitable human question and surprised response, “What’s this do? Ooooops.”

The label backing had to be strong so I selected a flexible plastic. The label itself would have to be plastic also but my test sample used paper. As you can see in the photo, the plastic stood up well as did the connectors—wire and tiny doll clothing buttons—but the paper got attacked by splashing water and all kinds of food products going in an out of the cart.

The all plastic and laminated label will experience the same grocery onslaught but it’s better prepared to do its job of clutching tightly to the bars while gathering donations for hungry kids and their parents.

Magic Flip Flops
Al Shoemaker, my friend and neighbor three doors down has been recuperating from serious back surgery. In the past couple of week he grew weaker and we did not know why. A clue popped up on a recent visit to the doctor because he complained more about his shoes then ever before. They just seemed to be too slippery for him to stand easily.

The next day I purchased a handsome pair of flip flops at Walmart that had nubs on the soles for better traction. (Al calls them nipples, for some reason.) Well, that did the trick. He can now push on the bed with one hand to stand up instead of making multiple two handed attempts.

Al and his house are not ready to receive company just yet but if you want to show your support, a gift cards from In and Out Burger, Wienerschnitzel or Boston Chicken will do nicely. I know he’ll appreciate your concern and it will most definitely lift his spirits to eat something other than his own cooking. Also, I don’t mind chasing takeout for him because he’s pretty happy when I return.  

We collected a total of 142 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $34.00, a $25.00 check and $9.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

253rd Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
Polite Company

Late Friday morning I want back to Sprouts to finish placing the stickers on the remaining 50 or so shopping baskets. I also had the final prototype sign for the shopping carts I wanted to test. It fit just fine.

Even with only a portion of the shopping baskets stickered, I noticed the bin had more single Sprouts canned and packaged items. Before, Sprouts items were mixed in with donations from customers’ homes and other supermarkets. This change means the quiet reminders are working. When all carts and baskets carry the reminder—starting Saturday—donations should really pick up.

After completing my work, I walked out of the supermarket feeling a bit elated. It was then I decided to treat myself to lunch at the new Hibachi Super Buffet next door. Right after I had that thought I turned around and went back in to ask Richard, the store manager, if he could join me. He said yes because he had heard good things from his staff about the buffet and was looking for a reason to try the new restaurant himself.

We walked past the shopping carts— stopping to help a customer separate two that were stubbornly hanging on to each other—and then past the large blank wall leading up the restaurant’s double doors.

“What do you think?” Richard asked. “Those blank walls,” pointing to either side of the doors, “are disturbing. They should do something to them.”

“You’re right,” I replied as we yanked open both doors and entered, “they almost hide this plain entrance way.”

Richard is always making observations, mostly to himself to keep his skills honed but when he is around someone who appreciates marketing subtitles he makes it an essential part of the conversation.
The Hibachi Super Buffet is decorated in classic dark mahogany-like wood with lots of open space. There is even a huge fish pond filled with small and large Koi. Coins blanket the bottom of the pond which immediately made me think of metal contamination. Don’t eat the carp I told myself.

The great thing about a buffet is within a few short minutes after entering the restaurant you can be enjoying your meal. I started with the stuffed scallops which were wonderful …as was everything else.

I showed Richard the final shopping cart sign and that segued into a conversation on impulse buying.

“If you have a new gum near the checkout,” Richard said, “the customer may or may not try it. Why not help the customer make up his or her mind by having that same gum display in the meat, the produce and the bakery departments.” He went on to say that what he liked about One Can A Week was there are small shelf talkers, stickers on the carts and baskets and a big sign telling the customer how much had been collected. Richard also thinks it’s solid and subtle marketing … everywhere it should be to help the customer make a decision.

A few weeks after Richard said I could collect One Can A Week in his supermarket, he told me he really liked that I did not ask the customers for anything. I just said hello or responded to their questions. Initially I thought it was a nice compliment but following our Hibachi lunch I realized that when it comes to politely interacting with customers, both Richard and I are not only on the same page, we are on the same sentence. No wonder One Can A Week is working so well at Sprouts.

Epilog: While waiting for the waiter to return to our booth with my Visa card, we both opened our fortune cookies. Mine read: “All the answers you need are right there in front of you!” Those darn things never tell me anything I don’t already know.

Looking Good
Have you noticed how clean the Mile Neighborhood is? Block after block the yards are neat and the streets nearly sparkling. Amazing … and delightful. Just wanted to let you know in case you were too busy driving home to take in and appreciate the sights.
We collected a total of 154 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $83.00, two checks totaling $75.00 and $8.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, November 4, 2013

252nd Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
Thanks to Sprouts
       This...             Becomes This... 
For Many Needy Folks
This Thanksgiving Holiday

Friday morning Richard Rodriguez, the manager for Sprouts Farmers Market on Speedway called me to say he had 10 large bins full of pumpkins he wanted to donate to the Community Food Bank.

Within a few minutes I had Jacob Coldsmith, the Community Food Bank Director of Logistics on the phone. He took the information and called Richard himself. Later that day when I was at Sprouts measuring a shopping cart for signage, Richard told me he needed Jacob to respond quickly because the fork lift drive’s shift was over in an hour. Jacob did just that and was at the supermarket in 20 minutes with a huge refrigerator truck.

Jacob was doing his own marketing by driving that truck. He wanted Richard to see that he can handle all kinds of perishable stuff. And in a hurry.

He not only picked up the 10 bins of pumpkins at the Speedway supermarket, Jacob also snagged the Broadway supermarket’s extra pumpkins. While he loaded the pumpkins at Speedway, the Sprouts Broadway manager called Richard to find out what he was doing with his extra pumpkins. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect so Jacob got them all.

Working with Jacob is a pleasure because he totally understands that he has to move at the “speed of business” especially when dealing with supermarket chains. Those folks have no time to spare. Food comes in fast and what doesn’t sell has to move out just as fast.

Richard had another option if the Food Bank couldn’t meet his schedule. He was thinking about feeding the pumpkins to the elephants at the zoo. We both love elephants but he and I agreed, kids come first … and Jacob made it happen. 

Community Food Bank Pumpkin
Comes With A User's Manual

When I arrived at the food bank today I called Jacob to find out how many pounds of pumpkin the two Sprouts supermarkets donated on Friday. His answer was staggering. Speedway’s total was 3,402 lbs. while Broadway came in at 2,200 lbs. for a grand total of 5,602 lbs.

That volume of pumpkin can produce 1,867 pies or loaves of bread, based on 3 lbs. of pumpkin generating enough puree for a single pie or loaf.

Jacob went back to his office and returned with another surprise. “We just don’t hand our clients nice looking pumpkins and say good luck,” he said smilingly. “We give them this, too.”

The Volunteer Department at the Community Food Bank created a very slick two sided flyer that included information on how to prepare and cook pumpkins, pumpkin nutritional facts and several tasty recipes.

This is another reason I love the Community Food Bank. They always think of things to help folks. That attention to detail makes me push just a little harder to find more food for them to distribute.

The 14th Truck Load
It’s a little too soon for the holiday rush, however, calls for pick ups are … well, picking up. This week’s donations amounted to 520 lbs. and included: Mayor Rothschild, 38 lbs.;  SwanRise Productions, 30 lbs.; Pete Swan Productions, 2 lbs.; Miles School, 158 lbs.; Sprouts – Speedway, 132 lbs.; and Miles Neighborhood, 160 lbs.

Lot’s of Trash … Gone
All three roll-off bins were filled to capacity. Alley mattresses, couches by dumpsters and loads of unwanted vegetation left the neighborhood today. This is what Environmental Services hopes for when they provide those free roll-offs.

Look around the neighborhood, it is quite spiffy. In the spring, more free roll-offs will appear so get ready.

We collected a total of 160 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $32.00, a $25.00 check and $7.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, October 28, 2013

251st Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
Small Reminder with Huge Potential

While checking out, at least a half dozen Sprouts customers hurried over to the One Can A Week display on Saturday and snatched a can or two to add to their order. The cashiers encouraged them with a smile and quickly scanned the items so they could put them in the food bin.

One young lady even grabbed a can from the table, paid for it and returned it to its spot on the table. Since that particular can had already been paid for—some folks hand their donations directly to me which I stack on the table—I thought, “wait” and even held up one finger. I stopped myself, not wanting to embarrass her and waited until she left the supermarket before I took a can from the display and put it in the bin.

All this scurrying made me think about the folks who had talked to me weeks earlier about putting up a One Can A Week reminder sign as they came into Sprouts to shop. Those two displays Anthony built did just that but now they’re gone. With the large One Can A Week display in the exit aisle, we are back to no reminders again.

There are shelf talkers in the canned goods aisle but there is a lot going on with pricing stickers everywhere. Customers probably won’t pay much attention to them. Then it dawned on me. How about putting a shelf talker in the shopping basket? There’s no clutter there and it is a gentle reminder.

With my wicker collection basket under my arm—Richard does not want me to let the cash donations out of my sight—I walked over to the door and returned to the table with a shopping basket. The shelf talker looked great inside the basket. Then I took the basket over to Rosemary’s checkout line and showed it to her. Rosemary is my Sprouts idea sounding board. I get her opinion on everything I’m thinking before I make a presentation to Richard. She’s never wrong.

She loved the idea and suggested I put them on the shopping carts, too. I was going there eventually but Rosemary is quick to see all options.

A few minutes later Richard came by and I showed him the reminders and he really liked the idea. He could read the small sticker on the shopping cart but I suggested that it should be bigger because older folks like me would have trouble with legibility.

I had enough shelf talkers to decorate at least 15 shopping baskets. It will be fun to see if those few reminders increase donations in the food bin this week. Tomorrow I will order more stickers from Signs Now and ask them to help me create a shopping cart sign.

The best part about making all of these One Can A Week marketing discoveries is I’ll be ready to answer the call when Sprouts management decides to go ahead with the program in all 160 stores around the southwest.

On Saturday Ramón Valadez, Pima County Board of Supervisor, Chair, presented me and 29 other community minded folks this very handsome certificate of appreciation. He cited my work with the One Can A Week program.

I’d like to cite Council Member Richard Fimbres for recommending me to receive this award and encourage you to vote Tuesday, November 5th for Richard, my friend, a very smart politician who gets it.

Every time my truck tells me something is amiss, I head for AutoZone to get a free reading. On Wednesday my battery warning light came on and it turned out the alternator was going on the fritz. Brake Masters would charge me $350 to fix everything. I decided to listen to my friends at AutoZone and buy thealternator for $104. This meant the Brake Masters bill would only be $79 to install the part and they would have my truck back on the road in 2.5 hours.

The guys at AutoZone spent some quality time helping me make the right decision. At the end of our conversation, Scott closed the hood and handed me $3.00. “I always wanted to donate and this is my first chance.”  

The moral of the story is when your car’s warning light comes on head to community minded AutoZone. It’ll save you heartache and lots of money.  

Dumpsters In The Hood
November 1 – 5, three FREE roll-offs will be in the Miles Neighborhood. Pitch most everything except tires and paint.

1S. Martin Avenue between E. Miles Street & 13th Street

2E. 12th Street between S. Cherry Street and S. Vine Avenue (Old Red Cross parking lot)

3.  S. Cherry Street between 13th Street & E. Manlove Street (Next to baseball field)

We collected a total of 173 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $32.00, a $25.00 check and $7.00 in cash.

We collected a total of 173 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $32.00, a $25.00 check and $7.0 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, October 21, 2013

250th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
Opening Night for One Can  A Week

When I arrived at Wilbur’s Sunday around 6 pm, Pete Swan was setting up and testing the sound system. He even had electronic hand held sound monitors he used to check the balance in the back of the room. Most jazz bands I played with just set up and started to play. Pete’s attention to detail is better on fans’ ears no matter where they sit in the room.

The moment he finished he called me up to the stage to help him kick off his One Can A Week program. He stood a few feet away from me with his own mic and interjected a comment or two while I talked to the folks. What I really liked was Pete’s obvious commitment to One Can A Week. He runs a tight ship which is evident in the quality of his musical productions. So One Can A Week will just fall in line.  

On the first break, Pete’s sat with me a moment. A moment is all you get because he is ever on the move stage managing and tweaking his musical project.  We discussed how I would handle delivering the food to the food bank and where he would store the drum bin during the week. Then he popped up and told me to follow him.

Near the front entrance of the hotel he saw Theresa Cesare, the wife of the owner of the Viscount Suite Hotel. Pete asked where he might store the drum bin and then introduced me. Theresa told him in her office and shook my hand. Pete took off again.

With a few seconds, Theresa and I were taking like new friends. She was an elementary school teacher and now she helps run her husbands hotel directing all aspects of their electronic marketing efforts. When I mentioned Sprouts on Speedway and Richard Rodriguez the manager, she said Richard was a dear friend. Next we discussed community service and Theresa told me about their mission to incorporate community service in all of their dealings with their customers.

Turns out that this was some opening night for One Can A Week … and me, too. I have been looking for someone to suggest a few doors I might open in the Tucson business community and Theresa said she would try to help.

I believe business can and will help solve many of our social ills, and it will happen through the support of community service projects like the one Richard and I have established at the Sprouts Farmers Market. Now something similar is possible at the Viscount Suite Hotel.

While I do what I do, why don’t you get together with a few friends and join us at Wilbur’s next Sunday at 6 pm. The food is great, as are the spirits and of course, the music that makes it so much fun. There is no cover but there is a tip jar if you like what you hear. And don’t forget to bring a can of food for the hungry kids and their parents. And let me tell you, Sunday nights at Wilbur’s is the best way to enjoy the calm before having to greet those stormy Mondays.

Thirteenth Truck Load
This week’s total amounted to 490 lbs. Sprouts donated 100 lbs., Pete Swan Productions, 22 lbs. and Miles Neighborhood and Axis Food Mart, 368 lbs.

On Permanent Display
With the holidays fast approaching, Anthony decided to build a One Can A Week display in the front of the Sprouts store. Now the food bin does not stand alone.

To help remind and encourage shoppers to donate to the Community Food Bank, there are now a number of small shelf talkers in the canned food section.

They say, “Please don’t forget to donate One Can A Week to the Community Food Bank.” Now isn’t that subtle and clever marketing.

Albertsons Does It Again
About every two months, Albertsons has a terrific sale on VanCamp Pork and Beans … 50 cents a can.  This week they offered 10 lbs. of Idaho potatoes for $1.78. I hurried over to the Axis Food Mart and asked Maen if he had any money in his collection tin. After a quick count, Maen had just enough to cover 20 bags ($35.60) or 200 lbs. of great looking spuds.

We collected a total of 368 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $50.00, a $25.00 check and $25.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,