Monday, January 27, 2014

264th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
Low wages and 20-hour jobs create ...

SNAP—The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—now covers 1 in 7 Americans. This fact emerged in a recent analysis of government data for The Associated Press by economists at the University of Kentucky.

In the past SNAP recipients were mostly kids and the elderly. Today the majority is working-age people. As with climate change and the melting of the glaciers, the evaporation of the middle class is also a reality. And no matter what you hear, few if any of these hardworking and struggling folks are looking for a “ticket to ride.” Unfortunately the same cannot be said of our congress.

Maggie Barcellano, a new SNAP recipient (shown in the photo above with her three-year-old daughter Zoe) is the example cited by the author Hope Yen in The Huffington Post article. Maggie’s bio stacks up like this:
-    Graduated high school.
-    Enrolled in college studying nursing but couldn’t afford all the tuition.
-    Joined the Army National Guard and trained as a medical technician but couldn’t find work after her service because she needed additional certification and fees.
-    Found a job as a home health aide, six days a week at $10 per hour.
-    Signed up for SNAP through Any Baby Can.
-    Trying to save up for paramedic training and certification.

Maggie is living the life of her grandparents–or great grandparents for that matter—way before television and the Internet. And it is sad to say this situation won’t improve soon because our government is not at all interested in governing. Therefore it is left up to us to do something. I’m not standing idly by and every week others are joining me at Sprouts to help hungry families survive.

Wait, here’s an idea. Why not shop at Sprouts every week and make a food donation. Their prices are really very competitive and the quality is superior. You’ll feel better that at least you are doing something … I love that feeling … and others will follow your lead. The truth is hungry folks can’t wait so neither can we.

Sprouts Update

3rd Truck Load – 2014 
Three weeks in a row we’ve taken over 500 lbs. to the Community Food Bank.

This week’s donations amounted to 635 lbs. and included River View Estates, 126 lbs.; Sprouts (Speedway), 140 lbs.; Sprouts (Oracle), 52 lbs., Miles School, 82 lbs., Shiva Vista, 58 lbs. and Miles Neighborhood, 177 lbs.

Now that was fun
Bill Carnegie, former CEO of the Community Food Bank is taking no time at all getting into new adventures as he promised he would. Mid morning today I got an email: “I'm teaching a Monday evening class this semester at ASU's Tucson Campus. I was wondering if you might have an evening available to come and talk about your efforts as a volunteer (and recruiting other volunteers) and talk about your program a bit.”

Talk about One Can A Week and volunteers? Those are my favorite topics. Bill needed someone on the 17th of February but was in a bit of a spot because he also had a cancelation for tonight. Blog posting or not, I decided to back up my friend.

Not only did I explain our efforts here in the Miles Neighborhood, I also got to introduce my Twenty-Eighty Volunteer Program where community service becomes a “fact of life” in America. (Click on link to an article on the program at   

Can’t wait for Bill’s next email because he’s getting adventure into my life, too.

We collected a total of 177 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $29.00, a $25.00 check and $4.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

263rd Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
Pure Joy

It all started with Amira.  She’s the 9-year-old girl on the Holland’s Got Talent show who’s amazing and heart-felt rendition of O Mia Babbino Caro stunned the judges, the world ... and me. It was the most thrilling singing event I have ever heard and I was around for the Beatles. To date Amira’s O Mia Babbino Caro YouTube video has nearly 5 million views.

That was in November and I decided Saturday to look for an update. Amira not only won the second round, she took the title with a performance that is nothing short of melodic perfection.

(Please view the videos in order to experience the depth of Amira’s amazing skill and talent.)

I have listened to those videos more than a half dozen times and their effect has been profound, rearranging some endorphins in my brain for sure. Shortly there after my eyes began to see the other joys on my path. Instead of just piles and piles of food I imagine the hundreds of people who give me their donations each and every week.

At the time I took the photo of how close the One Can A Week display table was to the checkout counters at the Sprouts-Oracle store, I did not appreciate the effect my proximity would have. Customers stop and chat easily now.
We all get taken up with the process and we forget to not only smell the roses but consider how incredibly beautiful these flowers are to behold. Every week I am going to listen to Amira sing so I won’t forget that no matter how much we think we know about this amazing planet, we really haven’t seen anything yet.

2nd Truck Load - 2014
Maen Mdanat, owner of the Axis Food Mart started a One Can A Week program in his neighborhood along with his kids, Petra, Rayah and Michael just 8 weeks ago and now he is collecting food every where he turns. Of the total weight we collected this week, Maen accounted for 196 of those pounds. 

This week’s donations amounted to 544 lbs. and included River View Estates, 106 lbs.;  Sprouts (Speedway), 120 lbs.; Sprouts (Oracle), 20 lbs., Lewis Rocca Rothgerber, 46 lbs., and Miles Neighborhood, 162 lbs. + 90 lbs. (Axis Food Mart.) = 252 lbs.

Email from Winter Haven
On Sunday, Suzanne Myal sent me a very pleasant surprise.

"I plan to propose your wonderful "One Can a Week" program to our Winter Haven Village Town Houses (Country Club and Prince area) Board of Directors on Tuesday, January 21st."

Won't know what happened until next week but I sure can't wait to hear back from Suzanne.

We collected a total of 252 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $6.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, January 13, 2014

262nd Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,

The Good News Goes On and On and On

Great Way to Get Kids Stuck on One Can A WeekAri Kaplan and his daughter Hannah, who live in Millburn, New Jersey, have reached a new plateau in their efforts to playfully encourage more One Can A Week participants. They are spending their energy and a little bit of money to start a colorful sticker program in Hannah’s Wyoming Elementary School.

How it works is One Can A Week simple. Every time a student remembers to bring a can to school, he or she is given a “cool” sticker.

If teachers or parents want to start such a program in their school, Ari will be happy to help. Just send him an email at

A Sign of Good Times AheadWhen mounting the new fourth quarter sign at Sprouts on Saturday I remembered our struggle over the past three years to establish One Can A Week as a viable business/food drive concept in a large supermarket chain. When I say “we” I mean Richard Rodriguez, Rosemary Chacon and now, Theresa Hippler, the new manager at Sprouts – Speedway who picked up right were Richard left off. Theresa encouraged me to hang the new banner but leave the old one so customers can see how their donations really add up quickly.

John Burroughs, who was quite instrumental in fostering conservation in America once wrote, "For anything worth having one must pay the price; and the price is always work, patience, love, self-sacrifice - no paper currency, no primises to pay, but the gold of real service." My thoughts, exactly.

More Than One Strategy Meets the Eye Here - When I first approached Richard Rodriguez at Sprouts to initiate One Can A Week in his store my strategy was simply to involve his customers in donating food to the Community Food Bank. While packing up the food on Wednesday I noticed something wonderful that I had not really anticipated. Just look at the quality of the food I am gathering at Sprouts each week. Not only are we feeding hungry kids and their parents, we are substantially improving their diets, too. Sprouts donations help needy folks eat as healthy as all Sprouts customers do. This fact has become part of my conversation now which—not surprisingly—puts a little more pride in the customers’ smiles.    

All the Numbers Are Going Up - When Frank Flasch started One Can A Week in the Old Fort Lowell Neighborhood a couple of years ago he had just a few HOAs (Home Owner Associations) ready to follow his lead. Today there are 16 HOAs in his program and in 2013 he and his Champions (team members) donated 5,882 lbs. of food and $3,757 in cash to the Community Food Bank.

A Bright ... Light .... IdeaHarbor Freight sells these little 33 LED metal flashlights that produce an intense white light. The night after I bought one I took Adam for a walk and I noticed the shaft was a bit short (2.25”). In fact I almost dropped the flashlight a couple of times. The next day at Home Depot I found an intriguing hunk of braided plastic tubing that fit the flashlight perfectly. But what to do with the open end? I got it, buy another flashlight. And the space in the middle? Fill it with backup batteries and a One Can A Week label.
When I showed my concoction to Melinda, a new client, she bought two as gifts. Another friend did the same a couple of weeks later. With the cost of the two flashlights, nine batteries and the plastic tube my investment came to $14.00. Once my customers heard that, the twenty dollar price for each seemed quite reasonable since the money goes to help support One Can A Week expenses.

Give me a call or send me an email and I’ll be happy to make one of these Double Backup Flashlights for you.  

Making a Difference with Folks Who Make a Difference - Charity Navigator, the largest independent charity evaluator in America, recently awarded our food bank their highest 4-Star rating not only in Financial Health but Accountability and Transparency, too. This placed the Community Food Bank on their “10 Top-Notch Charities” list.

After you review the chart from the Community Food Bank’s recently published Annual Report you will readily understand why Charity Navigator and I think they are the best. I especially like the 3% figure for Fundraising and Administration costs.

We’re in the Annual Report, too, in three separate categories which is a proud moment to say the least. The Miles Neighborhood appears in the $1,000 - $2,499 Donation category while One Can A Week falls in two categories, $2,500 - $4,999 Donations and Food Drives donating 10,000 Pounds or More.

Always with a Smile - Karla Avalos-Soto, Health and Human Services Advisor in the mayor’s office sent me an email last Tuesday. “…there is some food you may want to pick up :)” I did and it amounted to 24 lbs.

1st Truck Load - 2014 - Last year we had 19 truck loads (500 lbs. or more) and this year’s first just set a record so we may have an even bigger year than 2013.

This week’s donations amounted to 856 lbs. and included River View Estates, 32 lbs.;  Sprouts (Speedway), 84 lbs.; Sprouts (Oracle), 372 lbs., Mayor Rothschild, 24 lbs., Shiva Vista, 82 lbs. and Miles Neighborhood, 262 lbs. 

The Food is There, You Just Have to Pick It Up - As I walked toward my truck in the Safeway parking lot I saw a woman eyeing the sign on the passenger side. “You pick up food for the food bank?” she asked.

In a minute or so I learned her dad had recently passed, she trains Rottweilers for service work and there was a lot of food in her SUV. Then she slid open the door exposing maybe ten shopping bags filled to the brim and one huge and friendly Rottweiler.  

She was very grateful I took the food because it was so inconvenient for her to drive to the food bank. This is the second time I’ve been approached while on the road so I’m guessing it won’t be the last.

We collected a total of 262 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $61.00, $55.00 in checks and $6.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, January 6, 2014

261st Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
Want to do a little bit of community service
and still make a big difference? 
Just stand here ... quietly.

Randy, the assistant manager at the Sprouts on Oracle was about to walk by the display table when I stopped him. “It’s amazing, all I do is just stand here and people drop off their donations. I don’t say a thing. One older lady, maybe in her late 80’s, slowly walked up and dropped $10 in the wicker basket.”

Randy smiled, turned and walked away. I just needed to tell someone and he knew it. Even thought I have been doing this kind of community service for several years now, I am still amused by the small effort I have to exert to collect so much food. The marketer in me thinks I should have to jump through many more hoops to entice folks to participate. They just read the sign and reach into their pocket or cart.

At the end of my 4-hour shift on Wednesday I quickly packed up and headed for my truck in the parking lot right outside the door. As I hoisted the first few bags of food from the shopping cart into the truck bed I noticed a large, stuffed bag that was shoved up against the cab. On top sat a smaller bag with a pair of child’s slippers inside.

When I found Richard Rodriguez, the store manager, he was seated in his office. “Look at all this stuff I found in my truck.” He, too, smiled (a reaction you often get at Sprouts).

“When do you want to set up One Can A Week in the other stores?” Richard asked. “You should get that going.”

In the past few days I have been thinking very hard about two things: Finding volunteers and finding a sponsor. I cannot go into more Sprouts stores without either in place.

To answer the budget question I put together a cost spreadsheet. (See below). The one surprise to me was how much I spent to get things “going” at Speedway.
Good thing the $1,000 plus didn’t happen all at once like Richard’s request. 

Now I really need a sponsor or a crowd sourcing idea to bring all of the Sprouts supermarkets online.

The volunteers may be an equally perplexing problem as the dollars are, but now that I am established in two Sprouts supermarkets (Speedway on Saturdays, 9 am – 1 pm and Oracle, Wednesdays, 2 – 6 pm); I cordially invite anyone who might be interested in giving back just a little every week to join me for a trial run. Besides the delicious soup array—which I partake in every week—you will see what a joy it is. When folks walk up to tell you they just love having you and the Community Food Bank in their story every week, that’s when you know “this is what fun is all about.”

Taking Care of an Old Obligation
A couple of weeks ago a Sprouts customer told me she owed the Community Food Bank a donation. Someone who worked for her turned down a paycheck and instead insisted she make a donation to the food bank. Saturday the customer showed up with a $150 check which I turned in today.

This is another example of how folks at Sprouts are taking advantage of the convenience of One Can A Week. No more chasing down addresses, envelopes or stamps. Just drop off your food or check donation by Saturday and Monday it gets delivered.

We collected a total of 138 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $51.00, a $25.00 check and $26.00 in cash.

See you Sunday