Monday, April 29, 2013

225th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
Energy Matters

“Mayor says yes to the first 3 things on the list.”

That’s all Karla Avalos-Soto, Mayor Rothschild’s Health and Human Services Advisor had to say to me in an email I got last Tuesday. By Friday I had a number of projects in motion.

This all started in late March when Karla and I met in their conference room to discuss:

1. Tell city employees about the possibility of participating in a One Can A Week virtual food drive featured on the Community Food Bank website. This makes it easier than toting food donations to the office.

2. Starting a One Can A Week program in the Sam Hughes Neighborhood after talking to John O'Dowd, the president of the neighborhood association.

3. Having the mayor recommend some business leaders who might want to become sponsors of One Can A Week.

4. Find out who I should talk to in Karla’s neighborhood to begin a One Can A Week program there.

In the follow up email to her succinct note the day before Karla wrote:

“1) I will ask mayor to check in with the dept. heads to let them know about the program and your meeting request. After that I can get back with you so you can proceed.

2) I think mayor was going to talk to Mr. Dowd but I will clarify.

3) I will ask mayor about sponsorship ideas and a meeting.”

I know John O’Dowd because he’s the one who told me how to soundproof the Miles School Gym last year. I called him first thing Wednesday morning and left a message. Right after lunch he called back and we talked for some time. That conversation produced a meeting with the Sam Hughes Neighborhood Association Executive Committee on May 21st and information that a new fraternity in the neighborhood, Theta Chi was looking to engage in more neighborhood community service.

That evening my friend Davis Bauer at Sigma Alpha Mu sent me names and numbers so I could call the president of Theta Chi. Friday I spoke to and then emailed Tony Garvey the chapter president. He replied Sunday night.

“Peter, I forwarded your email to my community service chair. As the semester comes to a close, it is hard to start planning anything else this semester. School is over this week and guys won't be in town anymore. My community service chair did say that he would be contacting you for more information for next semester community service. Thank you for your time.”

One of my goals is to encourage more folks in the Sam Hughes Neighborhood to get as involved in One Can A Week as the Abbott Family at the Rincon Market. If this past week is any indication, we going to achieve that important milestone in the fall.

All’s well …
A couple of months back, Gary Hardy, a participant at the Academy Village, called to say some folks from the Empire High School in Vail would be contacting me soon. They were interested in starting a One Can A Week program. That call never came until today. Matt Donaldson, Empire’s principal wanted to apologize for something or other and I assured him when things go slow or never happen, I know how the story ends. I sell ideas all of the time and no reaction means no. So I press on.

At the close of our conversation Matt told me he had over 200 cans of food the students collected and wondered if I could pick them up. That’s happening today around noon.

Nobody calls than somebody calls and I get to take nearly 200 lbs. of food to the Food Bank. I’m happy and I know Gary will be, too. Sometimes nothing is something.

We collected a total of 184 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $26.00, a $25.00 check and $1.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, April 22, 2013

224th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,


Just a Bump in the Road
On Thursday I picked up the remaining food bank boxes at the Mayor’s office. When I got home I sent Mayor Rothschild an email expressing my sadness because the program was over.

Within an hour he replied, stating emphatically, “we have not ended the program.” Then he went on to say, “I must admit I have not gotten the response I would like … we will continue to try to collect.”

Great, he’s not giving up … and I’m not giving up … and there’s another reason why I voted for him.

The Mayor’s office donated 28 lbs. of food this week.

Coordinating Efforts
“We’re now talking to the same folks, and we don’t want to confuse things.

Part of the discussion in Tuesday’s meeting covered One Can A Week’s involvement with the Rincon Market. A converted mayonnaise jar with a simple sign—generating from $90 - $260 per week—made quite a hit and sparked a little competitive show and tell. A minute or two after presenting the Rincon Market’s collection jar, the Community Food Bank’s green bucket suddenly made an appearance. Pictured from the left, Lou Medran, Food Drive and Gleaning Coordinator, Melissa Wieters, Vice President of Development, Peter Norback and Bill Carnegie, CEO, Community Food Bank.
Photo by Laura Sanchez

On April 3rd I sent an email to Jim Click asking to meet to discuss my experiences at the Rincon Market. Specifically I was hoping he might introduce me to the management of Fry’s and Safeway in Phoenix.

As a way of referencing my credibility, I mentioned both Bill Carnegie and Mayor Rothschild in the email, whom I also copied, of course. A couple of days later I was invited by Melissa Wieters to an April 22nd meeting at the Community Food Bank.

I figured the main focus would be on my Rincon Market story so I prepared a thorough chronology of how Barbara Farragut and I began the process of collecting food at supermarkets. It was three months into One Can A Week and the assistant manager at Safeway on Campbell and Broadway let us set up a table. This new approach to collecting food was Barbara’s idea. When Safeway collections ended because we were not on their official charity promotion list, I moved over to the Rincon Market and the Sunflower Market.

To help create a solid visual image of the Rincon Market’s program I brought along a duplicate of the actual donation jar which collects a minimum of $400 each month. That former mayonnaise jar did its job and captured everyone’s attention.

I also explained that all I want from those huge supermarket retailers is permission to place a collection jar somewhere in each store and a Community Food Bank box with a large One Can A Week sign on it. Since there are only 18 Safeway store in Tucson, it would keep me busy but I could manage picking up the donations each week.

Since I had this golden opportunity to speak to top management at the food bank, I also put another idea in my folder.

To switch subjects, I said, and I quote because I had it written down: “When people think about hungry kids as often as they think about their own need to eat, hunger in America will go away.”

“Make Them Think” Campaign
Bill Carnegie was the catalyst for this idea When we talked during the Volunteer Appreciation gathering at the Tucson Art Museum a couple of weeks ago he said people are not aware of the many reasons we have hunger in America.

Since that conversation I have been thinking about unique ways to educating folks without saying the word education. This brought to mind a Halls Mentho-Lyptus spot that ran in my hometown of St. Louis some time back. It only lasted 10 seconds and showed a close up shot of an older, round faced gentleman popping a lozenge into his mouth. He then spends the rest of the precious seconds scrunching his face in response to the sour taste.

The announcer in a voice-over said: “Halls Menthol-Lyptus throat lozenges – Anything that tastes that bad has got to be good.”

Sales of Halls doubled in the next couple of weeks simple because the company was truthful and provocative in telling that truth by mocking themselves a bit.

Food Bank 10 Second PSA Spot
Two spots were presented but one will do here. The image is a back shot of a big kid sitting next to a regular sized kid at a school lunch table. The Community Food Bank logo is on the bottom of the frame. The voice-over announcer says: “Guess which kid spends the least amount of money on food?” (Pregnant pause) “Guess again.”

The provocative aspect of this commercial is the viewer is mocked a bit and the answer will only be clear to those who understand diet and weight control. Cheap food contains the least amount of nutrients and the highest amount of fat and sugar. Six of these PSAs only take up 1 minute of airtime but will have a profound effect because they will run daily.

Bill really liked the educational aspect of the PSA spot idea and will get back to me shortly after he returns from vacation. So all in all, that was one of the best and most productive One Can A Week meetings I have had in some time.

Special Note: No response from Mr. Click yet.

When School’s Out
Nina Straw, the Tucson Blessings in a Backpack coordinator covering Bloom Elementary (near Pantano and E. Pima) sent me an email Tuesday bringing me up to date on her critical work.

Blessing in a Backpack, she wrote, ”…feeds 68-73 children every Friday with a weekend backpack containing 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches and a snack 38 weekends during the school year. We are supposed to get another 150 children next year from Schumaker Elementary which is closing, and many of those children might be eligible for our program. It costs us $80.00 to feed one child for the entire school year, or $2.10 a weekend.

“We are having a huge fundraiser Saturday, May 4th at HARLEY DAVIDSON. If you could spread the word, we would appreciate it. We need to raise a lot more money in hopes of feeding all who needs it.”

Besides being my birthday, May 4th is going to be a great day to hang around Tucson Harley Davidson. They will have all kinds of family activities starting at 9 am and lasting until near sunset. Put it on your calendar. Tucson Harley Davidson is located at 7355 N I-10 EB Frontage Road. Call 520-751-3380 for more information and then party on.

Just Plain Beautiful
One of the eight artful and intriguing Tuffets in our Arroyo Chico Park

You have to see these magnificent Tuffets for yourself because no photograph could do them justice. Mary Lucking an artist from Phoenix created these magical tile and cement Tuffets with images so exciting you see something new every time you look at them. The colors are amazingly vivid and there is humor in every corner of the circular seat.

To tell you the truth, there should be little plain curved stone benches around these terrific pieces of art so you can sit and just stare at them. I for one cannot bring myself to park my bottom on them out of a deep respect for the artist and her inspiring work.

Go take a walk in the park and see if you don’t agree that we are very lucky to live here in the Miles Neighborhood.

UA Campus Pantry Update
Davis Bauer got enough of a break from his finals and LSAT classes to drop me a line. The Pantry Board decided to eliminate the Cat Points requirement and they “had by far the biggest turnout of the year this past month.” They also expanded board membership and experienced “quite the influx of applications.”

The sorority program is growing also. “Two more sororities are looking to get on the bandwagon next semester.”

What a great way to end the school year and kick off the next.

We collected a total of 164 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $42.00, a $25.00 check and $17.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, April 15, 2013

223rd Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
What Do 40,000 Hungry Kids Look Like?

For the last couple of years I have been using a description of a packed football game at the U of A to help folks visualize what 40,000 kids would look like. That mass of kids—which is all around us—struggles every single day to get enough food to eat.

On Thursday while at lunch at the Blue Fin Restaurant with my friend Bill—a new computer client—we were talking about One Can A Week and he asked what keeps me so motivated. My reply was the kids. I could see that he had no real image in his mind for such a massive number of needy kids. So I brought up the U of A stadium on a fall Saturday afternoon. Bill is a big sports fan and I knew he probably attended innumerable games.

The capacity crowd at the stadium is 56,000 and no matter where you sit on the lower level, the number of folks in your field of vision would be somewhere around 40,000. It’s a sea of red.

Our conversation got quiet for a few seconds and then Bill said, “I had no clear definition of what 40,000 kids looked like. Now I do. That is startling.”

When I first began One Can A Week and heard how many kids and their parents were going without food, that was enough for me. I did not need to be told anything else to jump in to help. I guess being more of a creative type my empathy button rests closer to the surface. If that’s not you, just imagine every time you attend a U of A football game that all those folks looking back at you are kids here in town facing hunger … every single day. That should make you want to do something about it.

The image above works for me…and I will keep on imagining those thousands upon thousands of hungry kids until I feed them all … three solid meals a day like the rest of us.

A Going Away Present
Every year Merv and Judi Wingard who live at the Academy Village spend the Tucson summer in much cooler Oregon. Before they left Judi let me know One Can A Week won’t skip a beat.

“…just wanted you to know that Merv and I will be heading to Oregon in another week. But the Academy Village One Can A Week program continues as neighbors bring cans and cash to our community center. We have six folks in our community who will continue to remind, collect, and take food to the Food Bank each month.

"Thanks again for inspiring our village to help make a difference."

No vacation for One Can A Week and that’s a good thing.

We collected a total of 172 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $32.00, a $25.00 check and $7.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, April 8, 2013

222nd Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
Big People? Big Building?
What’s the best way to determine if there is a huge problem
with hunger in America?
Every year the Community Food Bank pays tribute to its “valued volunteers” by throwing a very tasteful little party in their honor somewhere intriguing in the Tucson area. This year it was held Thursday afternoon at the Tucson Museum of Art. The Pete Swan Trio provided the background music and CafĂ© a la C’Art served an endless stream of fruit and chocolate and whipped cream petit fours in the Moore Courtyard.

I was there with my high school friend Merle Stolar sitting on a comfortable wall about 25 feet from the serving tables. We could see the array of petit fours but the distance helped to curb the cravings.

A little before the crowd appeared Bill Carnegie, the CEO of the Community Food Bank walked over to join us. Merle, ever friendly and inquisitive as always, asked Bill about his background and how he ended up in Tucson. In a few minutes I learned why the Food Bank is one of the best run nonprofits in the country. Bill is a career military man and while in the service earned his bachelor’s degree. At his first job out of the service he earned his Masters in nonprofit management.

Inside view of CFB warehouse – Looks like Costco
but the racks are never fully stocked.
What I was curious about was the public’s apparent lack of empathy for hungry folks. Feeding America is always showing photos of people in need and that does not seem to strike a chord with those who are not hungry. Bill’s response took me by surprise. “Many people,” he said, “question why they are hungry if so many are overweight. That is why we only accept healthy food, teach how to grow self sustaining gardens and promote healthy living.”

Really? On my drive home I thought, “People in general don’t know enough about the diets of the poor and invisible to know that they eat—when they can—very inexpensive carbohydrates and fats. Have these questioning people ever visited a convenience store or a bodega or listened to the news on TV or the internet?” Amazing!

Maybe the answer to push people’s empathy button is to do what I do with every new One Can A Week coordinator. We meet at the back door of the Community Food Bank and we walk up the ramp into the warehouse together. I stop them about 15 feet inside the door and suggest they look around. After a few seconds I ask, “What’s the first thing you thought about? What’s your first impression?’

Most stumble for an answer so I jump in quickly. “Look at this place. It’s huge. The building is huge. Big as a Costco. And this is America. We only have big building when we do big things. When we do small things, the buildings are tiny. Obviously, hunger here in Tucson is way out of control. Look at the size of this place?”

At this point I’m a bit animated but my guest is almost always silent and stunned. The good thing is after my enthusiastic cause and effect analysis, the coordinator sticks with his or her program week after week.

So education—actually, in your face kind of practical education—is the key to get folks to see the world as it really is.

The next time you are on the road, go check out the local food bank. It will be huge. And many of the poor kids and their parents are too; because they are eating stuff people with no money eat … carbs and fats. It all makes sense now, doesn’t it?

More the Merrier
There are 9 HOAs participating in the Old Fort Lowell Neighborhood One Can A Week – Four Cans a Month program, as they like to call it, and their totals keep going up. In the first quarter of 2013, Frank Flasch reports in an email that they dropped off 1,616 lbs. of food and $662 in cash at the food bank.

It wasn’t long before Ann Sajecki, Frank’s neighbor chimed in.”…don't forget,” she wrote, “the Feinstein Foundation* is making a partial match of all food and money donated until the end of April.”

Now who could forget that?

We collected a total of 184 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $31.00, a $25.00 check and $6.00 in cash.

*”Founded in 1991 by Alan Shawn Feinstein, the Feinstein Foundation is dedicated to the alleviation of hunger, the importance of community service in education and the values of caring, compassion and brotherhood.” The foundation is located in Rhode Island.

See you Sunday,


Monday, April 1, 2013

221st Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
Best First Quarter Totals Since 2010

When we add our current quarter totals (2,971 lbs.) to our total Miles Neighborhood donations to the Community Food Bank since January, 2009 we get 52,339.5 lbs. of food. The cash donations move up to $11,036.90.

In people terms, the food we donated fed 13,420 kids and their parents three meals in one day.

Changing the dollar figure into equivalent poundage, we fed an additional 14,716 kids and their parents three meals in one day. That’s a grand total of 28,136 people. Amazing!

No wonder we’re fired up and ready to go.

Formula for turning dollars into pounds.
Total money donated x 9 ÷ $2.25 per meal x 1.3 lbs per meal = pounds donated
Example: $11,036.90 x 9 = $99,332.10 ÷ $2.25 = 44,147.60 x 1.3 = 57,391.88 lbs. donated

Blame It On the Truck

Thursday’s Food Bank Delivery

Monday’s Food Bank Delivery
Ever since the truck arrived in early January, a new One Can A Week energy began to take hold here and around the country. Mayor Rothschild’s One Can A Meeting program sparked interest moments after he typed in a note in his scheduling emails to donate. Gary and Karen Hardey from Academy Village called to say they are working with the Vail High School on a One Can A Week campaign. And near Philadelphia, a sophomore at Swarthmore College won a $20,000 scholarship to build a One Can A Week contribution/social website.

On Wednesday, Maen Mdanat of Axis fame, collected $200 over the past quarter and decided to purchase 2 for $1.00 Libby vegetables at Albertson’s. That deal netted 408 cans weighing in at 436 lbs. (See top photo.)

Then Thursday, Davis Bauer, junior and marketing director for the UA Campus Pantry called to say he worked out a deal with his board members to donate to Miles now for later consideration. They just received 264 lbs. of food from the Immanuel Presbyterian Church Deacons and
the Presbyterian Campus Ministry. The storage space the Pantry has available would not accommodate the gift and besides the semester ends in a little over a month.

Davis said we can have the food if in the fall they can call on us to help replenish their supplies. That deal is already set up with the Rincon Market so yes, of course, we’ll take the food. (See photo just above.)

Obviously, it’s the truck. Why? Because it never fails … once a person gets a truck, neighbors just seem to hatch new ways to help him or her fill it up.

Become a One Can A Week Sponsor

Most charities lump everything together under donations. This can be confusing and unsettling for the donor. Especially when he or she thought the gift was to feed someone and instead an office chair was purchased or a salary paid. With this concern in mind, One Can A Week is creating a new model of trust when it comes to donations.

One Can A Week will not become a 501(c)3* nonprofit. For tax purposes this type of business structure is required to file quarterly reports. In turn, those reports mandate lawyers and accountants.

Unfortunately, without a 501(c)3 status, it is difficult to raise operational funds because organizations and companies that award grants and gifts insist on a charity being a 501(c)3 before they will get involved. More tax motivated behavior.

To keep One Can A Week operational costs as simple as the One Can A Week concept itself, I pay for everything out of my monthly $1,500 social security check and freelance computer training work. And those costs are so low I do not itemize deductions.

The good new is One Can A Week is expanding locally and nationally. The distressing news on my part is operational cost such as truck maintenance, printing and lunch meetings with potential participants, etc. are also expanding beyond my ability to pay.

Since every can and every penny donated to One Can A Week is given directly to the Community Food Bank, I need some help paying for operational costs. I call that help sponsorship. A sponsor’s donation becomes my personal income for tax purposes and is used to keep our One Can A Week program and me moving forward. (If your annual donation is over $600 you can issue a 1099 because I am an independent contractor who is working on the One Can A Week program.)

And in keeping with the One Can A Week philosophy, the donations should be small and consistent. Of course, I will keep meticulous accounting records and produce quarterly reports as I do for the food and dollar donations to the Community Food Bank.

In addition your name and donation will be protected with every fiber of my body. That is why I chose PayPal. They are trusted and you can either donate with your PayPal account or most credit cards.

Thanks for listening and I hope you can become a sponsor. If not, just know that I will always press forward even if it’s slower than I like.

To become a sponsor just click on the donor button in the upper right column. It will take you to the One Can A Week blog and you can then click the Donate button in the upper right column.

Special Note: As I have written about in earlier posts, the Community Food Bank operates on 3% of revenues donated and that is incredible. They are one of the very best “good guys” in the nonprofit business.

*This is the IRS tax regulation governing nonprofits.

Only A Two Column Photo Would Do This week there was lots of food and a new precedent had to be set. A single column photo could not cover so much generosity.

All the produce in the front of the cart was donated by Miles Neighbors. All the rest of the food outside the cart was donated by the UA Campus Pantry, the Immanuel Presbyterian Church Deacons and the Presbyterian Campus Ministry.

We collected a total of 888 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $66.00, two checks for $55.00 and $11.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,