Tuesday, May 28, 2013

229th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
Four Truck Loads in Three Months

The fun part of One Can A Week is never knowing how much food you are going to collect each week. In the past 7 weeks we have averaged 173 lbs. Then Jarrett Reidhead, the owner of several properties here in the Miles Neighborhood stopped by The Axis Food Mart and dropped off $60. This was another quarterly donation that he established last year. (As an aside, Jarrett is selling his portion of the Red Cross property because the fraternity deal could not be worked out.)

Maen added $40 from his food bank collection tin to Jarrett’s donation and we purchased 200 cans of Van Camp Pork and Beans at 50 cents each. This is the second volume purchase we made at Albertsons on Campbell. Tony the store manager said he would now alert us to other great deals that come his way.

More food showed up at Axis because a neighbor was moving and decided to donate instead of cart 20 or so pounds of cans and bags of beans to the new home.

Then this morning Dian from the Sheva Vistas Neighborhood dropped off her weekly grocery bags but forgot Monday was a holiday and that her last week’s donation had not been delivered to the food bank yet. So this week she set a record, 60 lbs.

When it was all weighed the total came to 545 lbs. and included the Miles Neighborhood, Sheva Vista, The Rincon Market, DKA Associates, The Axis Food Mart and Jarrett Reidhead.

Can’t wait to see who shows up next week.

More Disturbing Numbers
In a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, the US led the developed world with the most per capita income ($49,922) and the highest food insecure population (24%). We are loosing our edge but all I can say is I’m going down fighting.

We collected a total of 431 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $7.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, May 20, 2013

228th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
A Wind-Wind Situation

Near where Sabino Canyon Road turns into Kolb Road I noticed way up in front of me on the left a 15-foot-tall or so Dust Devil picking up lots of debris and the courage to cross the road. I was fascinated by the gyrations and failed to notice that the Dust Devil was heading east about as fast as I was heading north.

Both of the windows in the pickup were open as my eyes darted back and forth watching the read ahead of me and the whirling dervish.

When I thought that it might be a good idea to roll up my window it was too late. Like a shotgun blast, dust and pebbles sprayed my truck and my face flinging my hat out the passenger side window.

“Forget the hat, I’m not going back,” I thought. “That thing was falling apart and I need a new one anyway.”

Still smarting from the dust and grit slap in the face, I checked the rear view mirror for any signs of blood. Nope, no blood.

As I continued toward the foothills I assessed what just happened. That could have been very messy but I did not defocus from driving through the onslaught. That part I liked. Then my thoughts turned to the stupid part where I was mesmerized by a Dust Devil, I failed to roll up the window in time, and I mourned my disintegrating hat. That admonition wiped that prideful grin right off my face.

The humiliation continued later when I arrived at my destination. Upon exiting the pickup I had to dust the whole front of my body off, my face and hair and even my left ear.

The next morning it took nearly 30 minutes to vacuum all of the dirt and gravel out of the passenger compartment and there are only two seats. Also my poor pock marked truck has even more pock marks now.

In the afternoon I was beginning get back to normal when I got a text message from a stranger.

“Barbara…where can I leave a can of food 4U”

That message perked me up even more. The address Barbara gave was on the corner of Miles and Vine, a house that had been in transition for some time since the police asked the former occupant to come out with his hands up.

Someone had moved in but I did not know who since the gate was always locked. I texted back I could stop by at 3 pm and Barbara agreed.

This time the gate wasn’t locked and I got to meet our terrific new neighbor. Barbara recently retired from a career in aeronautical drafting. And funny thing, she said she had seen the pickup round the neighborhood but didn’t do anything until the wind blew a One Can A Week Thank You note into her yard. She checked out our program on the internet and then sent me that text message.

What is it they say? “It’s an ill wind that blows no one any good.” Never really understood that negative/positive idiom until now. It means most winds are not “ill” even if they destroy folks’ property because carpenters then get the benefit of rebuilding those homes.

A wind that both beats you up and then helps you? That’s a new twist, I think.

It’s Not Getting Any Better
A new book out from the Brookings Institute states that poverty in the suburbs now surpasses the cities with 16.5 million poor to 13 million. In addition, the suburbs have far fewer social programs to provide any assistance exacerbating the problem.

My Miles Neighbors and I see the situation and are bailing as fast as we can. Wonder what all of the others are waiting for?

We collected a total of 160 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $48.00, two checks totaling $35.00 and $13.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, May 13, 2013

227th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
Miles School Sets New One Can A Week Record
Relentless, Friendly Reminders Make the Difference

It was just a little after 3 pm Friday as I drove down Vine Street next to the Miles School. Suddenly I was flagged down by the driver in the opposite lane. It was Tiffany Kassel and she was all smiles. “We collected just over 2,500 lbs. of food this year,” she said.

I stopped in my tracks and rolled the window the rest of the way down. It was unusual that no one was behind either of us so we chatted for a minute or more.

“Last year,’ Tiffany continued, “we collected 1,100 lbs. At the beginning of this school year I set our goal at 2,500 lbs. and we made it.”

The difference we surmised was her friendly and relentless reminders to the kids. “I told them if they forgot their food,” Tiffany said, “they could donate some small amount of change, whatever they had. Their parents liked this option also and often gave a dollar or two when they were in a rush.”

We said goodbye and slowly drove off in different directions. But I’ll bet we were both thinking the same thing. Whether you stop by folks’ homes every Sunday or you say something every week just before collection day at the office or school, nobody really considers that reminder to feed hungry kids and their parents a bother or a nuisance.

I do it all the time and so does Tiffany and we collect a heck of a lot of food. And we never see any of those exasperated looks either that persistent sales people often get.

Fascinating. When I present One Can A Week to individuals or organizations the first reaction is they shutter at the thought of approaching another human being. The phrase “drop off” is generally included in the first sentence they utter.

After that brief drive by conversation I had with Tiffany and some reflection, I now know what to say to those reticent to engage someone in a conversation about helping a fellow human being in deep trouble.

When people agree to participate in One Can A Week, they want to see you every week and just love the fact that you are thoughtful and, yes, considerate enough to help them remember an obligation they too want to keep … relentlessly.

Cheryl Crow is the celebrity spokesperson for One A Day Women’s Nutrition Mission. I learned this fact after opening an email sent to me by Kristen Hershberger, the Volunteer Manager at the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona.

Here’s how Ms. Crow described her mission:

“…this year, in addition to donating up to 2 million more meals ($250,000), the Nutrition Mission is celebrating and honoring those who make exemplary efforts to fight hunger in their communities by awarding four $25,000 grants to Feeding America food banks in local communities. The winners will be announced this September and one of the four winners will be selected to meet me in my second home, New York, to help further raise awareness of the great work being done to fight hunger. So share your stories. Together we can make a real difference.”

I stayed up late to finish the 2,500 character (with spaces) story about One Can A Week and then clicked send. We won’t hear anything from One A Day (notice the conceptual similarities in our names) until September and only if the Community Food Bank wins the $25,000 grant.

Of course I didn’t mind working late for the Food Bank because if you remember, way back in the beginning I got a similar email from Pauline Hechler, the former Director of Development who told me about a $500 grant I could win from Quaker Oats. I did win that one and the money paid for the signage on the Cabriolet.

In my world, favors always get favors.

Lots of Kentucky Derby Winners
Every year my friends John and Heidi host a fun derby party with wagers, wonderful food and whimsical hats. When Orb crossed the finish line first this year, not only did he win but so did John and One Can A Week.

John picked up his winnings and approached the other lucky gambler. “I’m going to donate my winnings to the food bank, what do you thing?” That kind of question always gets a pause and then “Oh, yeah, me, too” response. John won again and the community food bank picked up a sweet $110.00.

We collected a total of 163 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $155.00, a $25.00 check and $130.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, May 6, 2013

226th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
Over the Transom

A week ago Sunday I stopped by Sprouts (formerly Sunflower Market) on Speedway and Swan to pick up a bottle of Eskimo-3 fish oil capsules. While on my way out I stopped to introduce myself to a manager-looking follow near the front door and discovered that Richard Rodriquez was still the manager. That says a lot about Sprouts because they kept a good manager in place when they took over.

On Monday after dropping off the donations at the food bank, I headed back to Sprouts. There Richard was standing near the booths up front opposite the cash registers. I was really glad to see him.

We exchanged pleasantries and he said he wanted to again provide the services of One Can A Week to his customers. He reminded me that under Sunflower management he had more autonomy but he now has to confer with management in Phoenix before we can move forward.

As I left I handed him a document called “A Business Solution to Ending Hunger in America” that I prepared describing One Can A Week’s history at the Rincon Market, Safeway and the Sunflower Market. He assured me the information would help and he will get back to me soon.

Well, that lifted my spirits and it was only 11 am. I decided to drive over to Costco on Grant and Craycroft to try my luck there.

While waiting to talk to the very tall and very muscular greeter I thought only a fool would try to get something by him on his watch. When it was my turn to speak he listened and then directed me to the manager station past the food court.

Sarah was the first person in a red vest I approached. She, too, listened attentively, thought a moment and wrote the name and phone number of the person I should call on a piece of scrap paper. As I left, Sarah said she understood and liked the One Can A Week concept. Another spirit booster.

On Thursday I reached James Harris the warehouse manager and he told me that Costco does not allow any charities to collect donations at any of their location. That made sense to me but I said that One Can A Week was more of a sales promotion and customer service program. It did not matter but he did give me the company’s headquarters phone number.

The next person I was directed to speak to was the assistant to the West Coast Senior VP of Operations. Again the conversation was open and very friendly but still I got the same answer. Also, I could not get through to her boss, the VP.

I really liked talking to the folks at Costco even though each conversation was a disappointment. Most companies today hide behind a recorded wall of “Dial 1, Dial 2...” There is never a way to really reach anyone or ask a question.

I now like Costco’s CEO, Craig Jelinke even more than I did before this encounter. If you remember, he’s the one who favors raising the minimum wage and he treats his people with a great deal of respect. It shows because in turn, they really respect their customers.

Something else I realized was his people follow policy to the letter. Consequently, if I want to get a hearing I have to go to the top.

Instead of getting back on the phone I decided to return to days of old and send a letter … over the transom, if you will.

Dear Mr. Jelinek,

Business is going to solve all of our social ills. I know that for sure, however, you may like this concept but are skeptical.

Let’s take hunger, for example. For the past three years I have been working with Ron Abbott the owner of the Rincon Market, a landmark neighborhood store in Tucson, AZ. Ron has donated over 5,000 lbs. of food in 2012 to the Community Food Bank and all of that food was paid for by his customers. And they are very happy to do so.

This is how One Can A Week works at the Rincon Market. Customers donate cash averaging from $90 - $220 per week. That money is used to buy food at retail; e.g., rice for $1.29 or canned vegetables for $0.99, etc. The customers also buy food themselves and leave it in a Community Food Bank box. All the items are delivered to the food bank on Monday.

Of course, your operation would be more food and less cash donated by the customers.

One Can A Week is a low key and very consistent promotion. A small sign near the cash registers will do. In addition, your participation should be noted in your flyers and on your website. Lastly, a local food bank box should be on displayed in the front of each store.

The best part of One Can A Week is the program is in the public domain. I decided to do that shortly after I created the concept because I am only interested in feeding hungry kids and their parents and I need lots of help.

Now imagine if a powerhouse supermarket took on the One Can A Week concept and applied some solid strategic thinking to the idea. That supermarket would sell a great deal more food and never have to give any food away again.

Right now at Costco the answer is no. This means if my letter causes anything to happen it can only be positive. Over the transom or not, I like the olds.

Even More To Come
At present Frank Flasch has 10 Old Ft. Lowell Neighborhood HOAs participating in his One Can A Week – Four Cans A Month program. And so far this year they have donated 2,182 lbs. of food and $902 in cash to the Community Food Bank.

In a month Frank will have two more HOAs join his team bringing the number of participants up to an even dozen. That’s got to be some kind of record.

We collected a total of 184 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $32.00, a $25.00 check and $8.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,