Tuesday, February 18, 2014

267th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
Closed Door, Open Mind
Michael McDonald, CEO,
Community Food Bank o f Southern Arizona

The email Monday morning, February 3rd was from Danielle Stroud at the Community Food Bank and her subject line read: Meeting with Michael McDonald. “Oh, boy,” I thought, “off on a new adventure.”

Michael sent me an email weeks ago commenting on my blog about Amira, the 9-year old opera singer. He wrote, “Today’s blog was especially touching, and a good reminder that in the midst of hardship there is hope and beauty and joy.” I smiled, “Exactly… think I’m going to like this guy.”

Before reading the new message I checked out all of the info first to get a better understanding of what was coming. Melissa Wieters the Vice President of Development was the only cc. A month or so before Michael arrived we talked in her office. I asked Melissa to wait until he has some time—maybe three or four months to settle in—before mentioning I’d like to meet with him. This invitation was a little soon so I knew she had something to do with it.

Okay, I was ready to read Danielle’s email. 

“Hi, I hope you are having a wonderful Monday morning. Michael had asked me to see when you might be available to come into the food bank for him to meet you and thank you for all that you do.”

Of course I took the first time offered. I always take the first time. The closer the meeting the more unlikely it will be cancelled. Those meeting with top executives that are weeks or months away?  Forget about it.

Michael’s door was closed but at 2:30 sharp it swung open and I was greeted with a smile and an extended hand. He then motioned for me to sit in the chair to the left of the coffee table. He closed the door behind him and took a seat to my right. This was great because I could spread out my presentation pieces on the table in front of me and easily hand Michael a document to review.

He sat at an angle in his chair and looked quite comfortable. I on the other hand, was somewhat nervous because the situation reminded me of many of my meetings with top management at Merrill Lynch and New York City publishers … in particular Harold McGraw, the president of McGraw Hill Publishing Company who was dignified, humorous and always on point.

Soon after Michael laughed at my first joke I calmed down and got to my agenda. We covered the Miles Neighborhood focusing on its 5-year history of donating to the food bank, the implementation of a new neighborhood volunteer service called The Red Umbrella Corps, the innovative approach to weekly food donations at Sprouts supermarkets, the costs to bring all five Spouts stores online and then finished up with the Twenty Eighty program where community service becomes a “fact of life” in America.

Yes it was a lot for a 30-minute meeting but we have thousands of kids to feed right now. Although I hurried, Michael was with me at every turn because he asked interesting questions. Toward the end of our time together he picked up his Smartphone and mentioned he had to move on. “There’s a lot going on in my mind,” Michael said swirling his right hand in the air, “so how do you propose starting?”

“Well, my thinking is you would select two or three people I could work with and we’d put together strategies and focus group findings.” I paused a second, “You would then have the information necessary to make decisions.”

As I gathered my stuff, Michael asked me to send him my Twenty Eighty proposal and he wanted to keep the Sprouts expansion budget. He said he would visit the stores to see thing for himself.

Maybe 15 feet from Michael’s door I ran into Melissa in the hall and walked her back to her office. We chatted briefly and she said Michael asked her right away after assuming office who he should meet. I had already guessed that and thanked her with a big hug for including me on the early list.

While driving slowly out of the Community Food Bank parking lot I mulled over the fact that I talk to people all of the time about feeding hungry folks … but never on the level I just did with Michael. That was a first and I hope it won’t be the last.

Can't Miss the Community Food Bank Bin Now

No matter what checkout lane you are in at the Sprouts – Oracle store, you can’t help but see the 2’ x 10’ One Can A Week banner hanging over the ice freezer. And then there’s that big red arrow pointing the way to the collection bin.

The sign and the positioning was Richard Rodriguez’s idea. He’s the store manager and he wants to make it as easy as possible for his customers to help the Community Food Bank.

All They See is Food 

The first inclination was to place the One Can A Week label as close to the top of the basket as possible. (Photo on right.) This way customers could read the reminder to donate to the Community Food Bank as soon as they picked up the basket. What actually happens is folks enter the store, spin backwards, stoop over and snatch the basket up by a handle not reading or seeing a thing. While on the move toward selecting their first item they flip the basket a few times until they grab the other handle and drop the basket to a waist high position. Only when they place the first item in the basket do they look down … maybe. 

After weeks of observing this basket ballet I decided to place the label on the bottom instead of the side. (Photo on left.) There are two advantages to this position. They may look to see what is stuck in their empty basket as they enter the store or they may see it when they deposit the first or second item. If there is more food in the collection bin this Saturday then I will know for sure that putting the label on the bottom was a good move. 

Nice surprise
One of the parents at the Miles School donated $375.00 this week. Seems her office decided to give their kitchen budget to the food bank. There was another $2.00 in the collection plus 106 lbs. of food.

The Miles School has been participating in the One Can A Week program for almost 4 years now and their program just keeps getting stronger.

We collected a total of 132 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $41.00, a $25.00 check and $16.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


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