Monday, September 30, 2013

247th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
Impressive Numbers … Impressive Neighbors

It’s fun to study the numbers in the quarterly report and how they fluctuate from week to week. Soon you realize there is no way to predict what the next week’s donations will be.  

However, there is some predictability in the small chart just below the headline. That shows the totals for the first three quarters in the past three years. The bold number is the sum of the weekly donations for the Miles Neighborhood and DKA Advocates, Dot Kret’s firm on the corner of Vine and Broadway.

The figure on the bottom is the total food donated through the Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week program and includes hefty, intermittent donations from Maen Mdanat and his Axis Food Mart.

The bold number is the impressive number though, because it shows only a slight variation from year to year. And that variation recently was due in large part to Barbara Farragut’s bakery participant closing and the banana store changing managers. (She had to sell (charm) the new guy to participate, which he did, of course.)

The impressive neighbors part involves consistency. For nearly five years 50% of the neighborhood has participated in the One Can A Week program without skipping a beat. When Barbara, Lenny, Kym or I show up the can is there.

Obviously I’m really impressed but what about sociologists? What would they think about a community service program where people do care and donate every week without fail to feed thousands upon thousands of hungry folks? It really doesn’t matter what they think because we will go on and on doing it anyway no matter who is watching. And that’s impressive, too.

First One Can A Week Display
in a Supermarket

Soon after setting up the display table in Sprouts on Saturday I went looking for the “satellite” tables as Richard the store manager calls them. They are located near the store entrances. During the week, Anthony, the grocery manager was going to stack canned goods around the little table to encourage customers to pick up something to donate to the food bank as soon as they rolled their carts into the store.

The table on the east door was no where in sight. “Darn,” I thought, “what happened? Did management change its mind?” I spun around looking in all directions and then I walked ten more feet into the store. “There it is. Holy cow, look at the size of that thing,” I said aloud.

I was looking for the small TV table but it was smothered by stacks and stacks of cans. What I finally saw was the One Can A Week sign on top. It took another second or two for me to realize that Anthony got really creative with his display by raising the tiny table off of the floor and making it part of the structure. And Barbie’s signage made the display even more striking.

For about a minute I just stood there quietly looking at it. Back in 2009 Barbara Farragut was the one who thought we should approaching supermarkets. April 11th we set up our first display table at Safeway. Then the Rincon Market a year or so later. But One Can A Week never became part of a supermarket’s effort to feed the hungry. They just gave me space to collect food one day a week.

Now, there before me was the final payoff for nearly five years of persistence. While slowly studying the display I also thought about Rosemary Chacon. She helped me with One Can A Week in the Sunflower Market days and just recently encouraged me to talk to Richard again now that Sprouts had settled in.

Rosemary was working Register Three. After taking photos I walked over to her and thanked her again for making all this possible.

Life is nothing but a confluence of events and if you do not pay attention to the little bits of information that are meant to help you choose the right path, success will elude you. This is why I listen to everyone—especially when it comes to One Can  A Week—because I know if I miss something, success will not be part of my story and hungry parents and their kids will not be fed.

Epilog – When I left at 1 pm, the display did not look as pretty because lots of cans were missing.  Sprouts and its customers donated 88 lbs. of food this week.

11th Truck Load
There were only five donors this week but they sure gave a lot … 652 lbs. to be exact. Sprouts and the Axis Food Mart weighed in at 88 lbs. each; Shiva Vista, 50 lbs.; Ward 6, 204 lbs. and the Miles Neighborhood, 222 lbs.

As you can imagine, I needed help pushing it up the ramp at the food bank.

Good NewsAl Shoemaker
a long, long time Miles neighbor, went into the hospital for serious back surgery a week ago and just got out of the ICU. He is heading to physical therapy rehab for a few weeks.

If you know Al, send a get well card to his home and I will make sure it is delivered to him personally.


We collected a total of 310 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $31.00, a $25.00 check and $6.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, September 23, 2013

246th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
A Little Slow on the Uptake

Richard Rodriguez, the Sprouts Framers Market manager gave me at least three hints on how the One Can A Week strategy should go. But no, I had this plan of building up the donations and then turning everything over to them to manage. It made perfect sense to me.

A few weeks ago Richard said corporate is watching our progress and I should be ready to move forward if they call. I am ready, kind of. I just started to put together a manual with photos on how to set up a One Can A Week program in a store. We discussed it Saturday and Richard told me he liked the idea and suggested I go ahead with the concept.

I then presented an 11x17 quarterly report poster that I would like to display in the store telling customers and staff how productive their donations were. When he saw the copy, “638 lbs. of food. Sprouts Farmers Market fed 164 folks three meals in one day.” he immediately took out his cell phone and said, “I’ve got to send my boss a photo of this poster. He’s going to like it.”

After taking the photo and emailing it, Richard again asked me, this time using a more studied corporate approach, “Do you have resources to set up in other stores, a main table, satellite tables, and volunteers?”

Those words really got my attention. Sprouts is moving forward and One Can A Week is going to remain a key element in the relationship. Later when I relayed my conversation with Richard to Bill, the security guard—who is very watchful and protective of the donation bin during the week—he replied, “that makes perfect sense, a true partnership.”

The moment Bill said “partnership” everything fell into place. If Sprouts coordinates One Can A Week themselves, somebody will eventually say they are “running a promotion” that just happens to donate food to the food bank. Promotion being a bad word in this instance. With One Can A Week volunteers doing the work, the program remains a strong and unique community service project.

Then there’s the situation with the cash donations. Sprouts does not want to have anything to do with charity cash donations. It’s hard to keep track of and besides, it is not part of their business plan. This was another hint from Richard. When I collected $79 a couple of Saturdays ago, I asked him if there were anything special I should buy. “No,” he said pointedly, “you buy whatever you want.”

My thinking is business will help end many of our social ills, but there are two important ingredients necessary to make such a concept viable, listen to what the business people are saying and keep it “strictly business.”

Thanks Richard for helping me see how to press forward.

Hannah, the Accountant
Ari Kaplan who lives in New Jersey collects One Can A Week with his 8-year-old daughter Hannah. A couple of days ago he sent me a copy of their most recent delivery. Seems Hannah keeps a record of every food item they donated to their local Red Cross pantry.

As the graphic on the left indicates, Hannah does a whole bunch of work, picking up the item, reading the label, putting it down and writing it down.  She did that 20 times. Now there’s a little girl who’s got her empathy and keeping track way under control. And her penmanship is pretty good, too.

Third Anniversary, YES!
In the beginning Fran Coleman, Senior Companion Program Manager for Our Family Services thought One Can A Week would be a great one year project for her organization. Since most of her Senior Companions live on $700 to $900 a month they understand what it means to be close to hunger. Fran did not want to go longer than a year because the program may prove to be too financially stressful for her volunteers.

To Fran’s surprise, at the end of the first year, all of the Senior Companions asked for One Can A Week to continue. Now it’s their third anniversary and they again requested I hand out certificates with the Executive Director at their annual Appreciation Luncheon.

Funny, that’s my third anniversary, too, for another happy day.

We collected a total of 144 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $66.00, a $25.00 check and $41.00 in cash. 

See you Sunday,


Monday, September 16, 2013

245th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
Community Service, Like Aspirin,
is the Perfect Remedy for What Ails Us

Just a Small, Consistent Dose Will Heal Our Hearts.

The scientific evidence is somewhat overwhelming. Community service provides significant mental and physical health benefits for all those who volunteer on a regular basis.

Kids become more lucid and more aware of the world and their surroundings. Nearly every day there are stories online about six-year-old babies raising lots of money for their favorite charity.   

Teens learn to focus better, think more strategically and incorporate a healthier lifestyle while elevating their academic standing. Based on these positive responses to volunteer work, more and more schools are implementing Service Learning programs into their curriculum.

Young Adults broaden their spheres of influence, social contacts and quite often decide on a career path based on their volunteer experiences.

Seniors live longer and are mentally and physically healthier when they volunteer their time compared to those seniors who do not.

Business derives the most from community service participation by reducing costs and expanding profits.
     Employees are happier, healthier and more loyal to their company when they
     and their company helps others. This in turn reduces costs related to turnover,
     training and health insurance.
     Many consumers search out companies that are community service friendly and
     remain loyal customers. This increases profits.

     Many HR Departments in major companies are now considering volunteer
     experience to be on par with real world work experience. In addition to the
     empathy factor, managing projects or staff on a voluntary basis at a charity is
     considered a very valuable life experience.

A full shopping cart on Saturday hinted at a new record.
It has been exactly eight weeks since we set up One Can A Week at the Sprouts Farmers Market on Speedway and Swan and all of the above benefits are popping out every which way we look.

Richard Rodriguez, the store manager, told me Saturday that during the past week a number of customers have stopped to thank him for getting involved with One Can A Week. They love how easy it is to donate to the Community Food Bank.

Even the staff is paying more attention to One Can A Week because they can see the energy it is creating with the customers. Consequently when I needed some guidance setting up the small display tables at each entrance every person I asked readily jumped in to help.

All these subtle changes over the past few weeks have created an atmosphere of commitment. More and more customers are donating each week and others are clearing their cupboards at home and placing their donations in the food bin. This week another record was set. Sprouts donated 162 lbs. of food which is 22 lbs. better than the old record.

If SproutsOne Can A Week turns out to be anything like One Can A Week in the Miles Neighborhood, Richard can count on growing customer participation to 50%. And then he can count on that 50% figure year after year.  The reason is once folks get involved in an easy community service program they don’t want to stop because it personally feels very good to help feed hungry kids and their parents.

Community Service Resource Information

What Are the Benefits of Service Learning? University of Michigan

Get Involved. The Impact and Benefits of Serving. Corporation for National and Community Service

The Health and Benefits of Volunteering. Corporation for National and Community Service

Volunteering May Help Your Career More Than You Think

Volunteer Work and Well Being. National Institutes of Health

The Benefits of Employee Volunteer Programs. Junior Achievement

Harvard Business School Social Enterprise Series No. 2
Making Business Sense of Community Service
Harvard Community Service study

Deloitte Volunteer IMPACT Research

Tenth Truck Load – As I have said before, the fun part of One Can A Week is we never know how much food we will collect in any given week. This was one of those surprise weeks because we loaded up the truck again.

Sprouts donated 162 lbs., Miles, 166 lbs. and Shiva Vista, 76 lbs. for a total of 404 lbs.

Burger King Makes the Call – Three weeks ago I told you about a young lady who worked at Burger King and was tired of pitching out perfectly good food knowing there are so many hungry kids in Tucson. I gave her my card and told her to call me. She did. Today. And fortunately I was giving a computer lesson in the Tucson Country Club Estates, not far from her E. Grant Road location.

Now I know what 38 lbs. of Burger King sesame seed long rolls looks like. A lot.

We collected a total of 166 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $32.00, a $25.00 check and $7.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, September 9, 2013

244th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
...Sprouts Update…

Cash took the early lead,
 but food is coming on strong.

Since the food bin/trash bin incident at Sprouts, I now enter the supermarket with a sense of cautious anticipation. What’s going to be the story this week? Will we need more signs?

When I got close enough to see the bottom of the bin there was a terrific surprise waiting for me. Cans and packaged food covered the bottom of the bin and filled up a second level, too. Customers are getting more engaged, I thought, and it only took six weeks.

Another good sign was late in the morning when a gentleman came up to the table and explained his mother was entering a nursing home and she had an abundance of canned food. He wanted to know how he might donate the food to the Food Bank.

I told him he could just bring the food to Sprouts and put it in the bin. If there were more food than the bin could hold, just stack it on the side. He turned and left quite please because he got a simple solution to his perplexing problem.

It may seem unnatural to bring donated food to a supermarket but once folks learn that their Sprouts is a direct link to their Community Food Bank, they will gladly scour their pantries for things that hungry people might find more useful.

People go to the supermarket at least once a week so why not shop in a place like Sprouts where they can find what they need for themselves and their families and help others at the same time. It makes perfect sense and of course, it’s One Can A Week easy.

“If you had a sign at the front door,
I could remember to donate One Can A Week.”
The west entrance to Sprouts.
Two weeks ago a lady who was a bit frustrated gave me this obvious advice to help her participate in One Can A Week.

Prior to her suggestion I had been thinking about doing something for weeks to introduce One Can A Week as customers entered the supermarket. Admittedly, I am moving slowly in my marketing efforts because I do not want to appear too aggressive to Richard Rodriguez, the store manager or his staff.

The east entrance to Sprouts.
However, her words motivated me and I came up with two small tables, designed to look like the big table with a sign and some food on display. My thinking is they can pick up a can right there. In the front of the table will be a short stack of cans with an 89¢ sale price on them. Also, those tables will be on permanent display to generate more sales and more donations throughout the week.

Since Richard was not there this past Saturday I took the tables down after my stint because I need his approval and permission before I do anything. (The assistant store manager let me set up the tables for one Saturday.)

While the tables were on display, I collected more canned and packaged goods than money which was a new food vs. dollars record. The end result was 72 lbs. of food, something Richard will like for sure.

Where the Real Hungry Folks Live
An article in 24/7 Wall Street recently examined the US Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service report which lists every state in order of its level of food insecurity from 2008 - 2012. The Top 10 hungriest states (in descending order) are: Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas, Alabama, North Carolina, Georgia, Missouri, Nevada, Tennessee, and Ohio. To read all of the unsettling news, click on the links above.

We collected a total of 136 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $41.00, a $25.00 check and $16.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

243rd Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
Table Talk 
Melanie spoke as if she were a slightly depressed forty-year-old comedian. Each sentence was filled with information and lots of irony. I was laughing most of the time we talked. 

It all started when she walked up to my table at Sprouts and dropped $6.00 in the collection basket.

“A couple of years ago” she began, “I moved in with my mother in Colorado to provide hospice care and it nearly killed me … really, because she was so mean.” Melanie told a few more stories that involved career moves, fund raising jobs and medical misadventures.

“I had this doctor who took me off my pain medication saying once I stopped the pills the pain would go away. It didn’t. What kind of doctor is that? So I got a new doctor.”

About 10 minutes into her mostly one sided dialog Melanie looked around to see if there were other folks who wanted to talk. “Listen, I’m taking your time,” she said. She reached in her wallet and put another dollar in the basket.

At the end of our conversation thirty minutes had passed. Based on her $7.00 donation I earned 23¢ a minute. If she had stayed for the full 4 hours, I could have garnered $55.20 for the food bank.

When Melanie left, a woman with a full shopping cart slowly walked by and then stopped. As I quickly explained One Can A Week she backed her cart up and stood directly in front of me. She thought a second and volunteered that once she needed the food bank because things were very rough.

“I’ll go back in and buy some things,” she promised as she pushed her shopping cart into the store.

A few minutes later she returned to the checkout line with lots of cans and packaged goods like macaroni and cheese. There was so much it took several trips by both of us to transfer the food from the checkout counter to the collection box.

“I want to give back, “she said over her shoulder while guiding her cart toward the front door.”Others have told me similar stories. They were in trouble and the food bank helped them out. Now that things are better a simple reminder of those days makes them immediately open their hearts and pocketbooks.

And no matter how many folks and politicians say those in trouble are nothing but takers, the real truth is most Americans are givers. When life turns the tables on them they work like hell not to be poor so they can again share.

Video AnniversaryMolly Thrasher published our One Can A Week video on September 11, 2012. Right now we have 1,125 views, with 75 of those happening in the last 30 days. Maybe folks are now looking around for some fun, easy and important community service to do. Let’s just hope so.

We collected a total of 144 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $11.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,