Monday, March 31, 2014

273rd Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
This is How Much They Pay Me
to Keep My Mouth Shut

Two or three Sprouts customers have told me that they really appreciate the fact that there is a person associated with the One Can A Week program who visits their store each week. The Sprouts managers told me they really appreciate that I only speak to their customers when spoken to but mostly let them go about their shopping activities undisturbed. So standing silence behind the display table with just an occasional “hello” nod pleases everyone. Even me because I am generating a lot of food and money donations. Just look at that cart above. It’s been like that for the past few week at both the Sprouts-Speedway and Sprouts-Oracle stores.

Although there is very little action, there is sure a lot of drama. At the end of my four-hour stint, I have to have a brimming food bin and at least $50 in the collection basket to buy those ten pound bags of potatoes. To keep the monotony at bay, I take up the banter of a carnival barker—in my mind, of course—focusing on different customers in the checkout lanes.

“Hey, mister, you in the plaid pants and striped shirt, don’t put that $10 back in your wallet. Augh, you aren’t listening.”

“Lady? As you walk by the table you can drop that dollar in the basket can’t you? Okay, maybe next time.”

The fun part is I have no idea who is going to donate or if I will get any donations at all. It’s always a surprise and quick. This past Saturday I turned around to check out a man feed his dog a treat outside on the front patio and when I turned back a man dropped a $20 bill in the basket. I always say thanks but I think I’m a little more exuberant when I see the larger donations. Good thing every donation is a unique event so I haven’t slighted anyone yet. And, yes, there are regulars who donate a dollar instead of a can every week. Even they sneak up on me sometimes.

Another thing I think about while standing there in silence is what if we had a One Can A Week display table in all of the supermarkets in town or around the country? We would collect a heck of a lot of quality food and people who can afford to feed themselves will be thinking about those folks who can’t every time they shop. And all of this wonderful, spontaneous empathy will happen while no one says a word.

In This Case, Boring is Terrific

We were 260 lbs. of food under last year’s first quarter totals but $76.00 dollars over so it’s a wash. Everything in this world goes up and down like a seesaw but when it come the Miles Neighborhood feeding the hungry, we’re as consistent and predictable as the sunrise.

To date we have donated 62,570.5 lbs. of food and $13,760.12 in cash to the Community Food Bank.

Special Note

Sprouts – Speedway
This week’s food donation of 236 lbs. was a record and helped push them past the two ton mark in just eight months as a One Can A Week participant.

Sprouts – Oracle
In a little over three months they are fast approaching the one ton mark.

10th Truck Load – 2014
Fresh produce not only increases the weight and quality of the food we donate; it also necessitates getting it to the food bank in a more timely fashion to maintain freshness. And since I am encouraging participants to donate more fresh produce and buying more produce from Sprouts myself, there will probably be two delivers a week from now on.  

This week’s donations amounted to 674 lbs. and included River View Estates, 24 lbs.; Sprouts (Speedway), 236 lbs.; Sprouts (Oracle), 184 lbs.; Shiva Vista, 62 lbs. and Miles Neighborhood, 168 lbs.

How does you garden grow? – If you are producing a bunch of extra vegetables and fruit—and what motivated city farmer doesn’t—think about donating some of your prize produce to the Community Food Bank.

This week we had our regular bananas and apples but some folks threw in tomatoes and sting beans, too.

We collected a total of 168 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $35.00, a $25.00 check and $10.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, March 24, 2014

272nd Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
The Dot Kret One Can A Party Program
Have Fun and Feed Hungry Kids and Folks, Too.

Feeding America’s  “…mission is to feed America’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks (our Community Food Bank being one) and engage our country in the fight to end hunger.” This engagement part is the most difficult aspect of their mission to accomplish because folks are … well, simply detached. They hear about the need but don’t think about it much. Dot Kret, on the other hand, CEO and founder of DKA Associates, gets everything about hungry citizens and the terrible effect it has.

Thirty years ago, Dot started DKA, an employment firm that provides extra special care for folks who need job training or personal guidance to enter the work force. Her clients include numerous state and local agencies. Friday was DKA’s anniversary so Dot decided weeks ago to throw a party and ask all of her friends and associates to join in the celebration. At the very bottom of the invitation, Dot wrote: “DKA is a proud sponsor of the One Can A Week project. Please bring a can of food for the Food Bank to the party.”
Early Friday afternoon the guests began to arrive. At the end of the day the food bank box on display outsider the front door was nearly full. And each guest got a personal tour of the facilities plus a heartfelt explanation of her involvement in One Can A Week … after they first enjoyed a full helping of the wonderful buffet, of course.

The next evening was Dot’s Sixtieth Birthday Party and that invitation also contained the food donation request. When everyone headed for home, the food bank box outside on the patio was full. That made it a really Happy Birthday for Dot.

The total amount of food Dot collected at the two events was 240 lbs. This means that she and her guests fed 61 hungry kids and folks 3 meals in one day.

What Dot has created is fascinating. If more influential people like Dot decide to ask for Community Food Bank donations at all of their parties a great deal of food will be collected every week, all over town. The reason is party goers won’t mind bringing food to an event because the person asking for the donation is a dear friend who has a passion and commitment to help the hungry. The guests won’t want to be a disappointment in their friend’s eyes so they won’t forget the food just as they wouldn’t forget the party gift.

Then the real easy part to Dot’s plan is those influential people just have to call me, as Dot did, and I’ll pick up the food whenever they say.

Birthday Party Epilogue
Congressman Ron Barber and Kyle Flynn, his campaign manager also showed up at Dot’s birthday party. She asked me if I wanted to meet them. Within seconds I was explaining what One Can A Week was and that I am always looking for and encouraging influential people to participate in the program. Congressman
Barber thought that he could do the same thing that Dot did, ask folks to bring food to all political meetings and events.

I told him that would be wonderful mostly because a congressman would be focusing on one major problem and taking the moral high ground. Later this week I will be talking to Mr. Flynn to discuss ways to implement One Can A Week into their political campaign. In parting I mentioned that we have to change the paradigm for collecting food for the hungry and the way political candidates sell themselves to voters, too. Just knocking on doors and asking folks to vote doesn’t help voters and therefore won’t get the vote out. “You have to help people,” I insisted. Let’s hope those words aren’t the last they want to hear from me. I’ll know soon enough.

Sprouts-River Road
to Participate in One Can A Week

Last Monday, Lydia Dillon-Sutton, the new Sprouts volunteer and I met with Gabe Nottingham, the Sprouts-River Road store manager.  Within two weeks we will be begin gathering food donations. Lydia chose Wednesdays from 11:30 am – 3:30 pm to set up the display table.

In addition, Gabe suggested we provide his staff with a written explanation of how One Can A Week works just in case customers have questions when Lydia is not there. This information sheet is a great idea and we will provide one for all of the staff at Sprouts-Oracle and Sprouts-Speedway, too.
Another Double Delivery

9th Truck Load - 2014
Last Wednesday after delivering 27 bags of Sprouts potatoes, I got a chance to talk to Bill, the manager
of the Community Food Bank’s entity called the Agency Market. Virginia from the Southside Presbyterian Church was there in the warehouse, too. Her organization feeds more than 200 folks two or three times a week.

The Agency Market supports 140 agencies that operate more than 400 feeding sites. I asked Bill and Virginia about the need for potatoes and their reply was very encouraging. They will takes as many bagged potatoes as I can donate. And those potatoes will be used right away. That’s the part I like. The food we donate moves out immediately to feed hungry folks.

This week’s donations amounted to 901 lbs. (a record) and included River View Estates, 38 lbs.; DKA, 240 lbs.; Sprouts (Speedway), 184 lbs.; Sprouts (Oracle), 172 lbs.; Axis Food Mart, 132 lbs. and Miles Neighborhood, 135 lbs. (Editor’s Note: Both DKA and Axis Food Mart are Miles Neighborhood participants so their totals are officially added to the Miles total. But today, their impressive donation deserves to receive some special attention.)

The Food Just Keeps Coming
Not complaining, mind you. The truth is all I do is my four hours at Sprouts/Oracle and Sprouts/Speedway and my three hour Sunday route in Miles. But sometime during the week I get an email or call out of the blue and the weekly totals skyrocket.   

We collected a total of 507 lbs. of food which includes Axis Food Mart, 132 lbs. and DKA (shopping cart on the right), 240 lbs. The money we donated amounted to $31.00, a $25.00 check and $6.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,



Monday, March 17, 2014

271st Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
When Somebody Cares,
Everybody Starts to Care
The CEO of Starbucks speaks up about equality a year or so ago and then recently Guinness, Heineken and Sam Adams step up, too. Even the president is initiating minimum wage hikes and equal pay. With much of the perils of the recession behind us, many folks are looking around, paying attention to and helping others who are still at risk. One Can A Week taking hold in the Sprouts Farmers Markets is another example of folks reaching out to those in need. 

Mayor Jonathan Rothschild started his own One Can A Meeting program in 2012. On each and every email his office sends out to schedule meetings these words greet the recipient:  “You can join the Mayor's "One Can a Meeting" program. Just bring a non-perishable food item to your meeting. There's a Food Bank collection box right in the conference room.”

For years the Mayor has been helping those in need through his volunteer work with Deep Freeze, a program to shelter the homeless when the temperature drops below 40 degrees. He personally set up cots and prepared his synagogue’s overflow shelter to receive guests. On top of that he has been Board President of Casa de los NiƱos, Handmaker Services for the Aging and Temple Emanu-el.

Now his work with One Can A Meeting is beginning to pay off nicely. Just this week he received a 110 lbs. food donation and $5.00 in cash.

We’re seeing an increase in folks getting involved in serving the community at large because it’s not only the right thing to do, but more important, they are looking to leaders such as Mayor Rothschild and Howard Shultz of Starbucks to show them the way.

Special Note:  Another leader who cares, Dot Kret, President and Founder, DKA Associates, is celebrating her 60th Birthday—the new 40 for someone with so much energy—and she is asking everyone to bring food for the Community Food Bank to her party on Saturday instead of gifts. I know Dot is expecting a great response to her birthday wish because she told me to bring my pickup truck, too.

Fresh Produce Increases Weekly Trips
to the Food Bank
8th Truck Load – 2014
 This is the 11th week of the first quarter and we’ve had eight weeks where we’ve donated over 500 lbs. per week. And lately we’ve had to make extra trips to the food bank. The reason is Sprouts Farmers Market. Their produce is so good and their prices so low, I’m encouraging many of their Oracle customers to donate things like bananas, strawberries (left photo next to the big green can in the foreground) and carrots. Their wonderful Idaho potatoes in ten-pound bags cost 35 cents per pound. That’s very close to being free.

This means the food I get on Wednesday at the Sprouts-Oracle store gets delivered to the food bank on Thursday. Since the Food Bank is only a couple of miles away from my home, I gladly rush the fresh produce to their back door.

This week’s donations amounted to 636 lbs. and included River View Estates, 26 lbs.; Mayor Rothschild, 110 lbs.; Sprouts (Speedway), 106 lbs.; Sprouts (Oracle), 138 lbs.; Shiva Vista, 60 lbs. and Miles Neighborhood, 196 lbs. 

Good Corporate Citizen Revisited
In the early 90’s corporations called themselves “good corporate citizens” in an effort to enhance their images. It often meant little more than staying out of the headlines. Today we now have companies like CVS that are making good decisions even though their actions will adversely affect their bottom line. By October 1, 2014 CVS will no longer sell tobacco products. With CVS’s announce 14 state attorneys general have requested other businesses follow
their lead. In the end, if tobacco consumption is dramatically reduced consumers will have more money for food and health care costs will be significantly reduced.

Tonight I shifted my prescriptions from Walgreens to the CVS pharmacy on University Place. It is going to cost a little bit more but nowhere near the billions CVS stands to loose. To support CVS and help them balance their books, maybe there are more folks like me who don’t mind chipping in a little to make America a healthier place to live and breath.

We collected a total of 196 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $8.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

270th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
More Schools ... More Sprouts

Tucson High Magnet School
This Friday I spent an exhilarating—and at the end—exhausting day talking about One Can A Week and community services to five classes at the Tucson High Magnet School. A week earlier I met Marea Jenness, a quite and charming Integrated Science teacher who has been aware of One Can A Week since the days of The Huffington Post article back at the beginning of our food drive. She had read all of the local articles, too, but this was her first personal encounter. In our 20 or so minute conversation she invited me to talk to her class and suggested she and her son might be interested in becoming a volunteer at Sprouts. Decisive is another word one could use to describe this former industrial manufacturing engineer.

After hearing my spiel for the fifth time which included how successful the four-year Miles School One Can A Week program is, Marea suggested she might also like to introduce the program to the 4,000 or so Tucson High School students.

In my thank you email I sent to Marea upon retuning home somewhat spent, I mentioned that:  “At the end of the day I discovered I had a new found respect for all teachers. After the first session I couldn't remember what I had said to what class and I began to think that I may be coming across as a memory challenged older person repeating the same story over and over.”

In her reply to my mail, Marea wrote:  “Thanks for volunteering so much of your time! I know that some students are interested in volunteering with you and I'll make sure that they contact you.”

Now that makes it worth the effort, doesn’t it?

Borton Primary Magnet School
A week ago Monday, Greg Clark a Miles Neighbor and friend sent me an email letting me know about a Community Food Bank food drive at his children’s school. It was to run only through the end of the month but Greg convinced the second grade teachers, Karen Hobson, Sheila Encinas and Alicia Gregory to consider extending the program with One Can A Week.

Today I made a presentation to some of the most well behaved second graders I have ever encountered. Maybe they were listening more closely because my Power Point presentation focused on an 8-year-old boy named Cayden Taipalus who paid off his classmates’ lunch bills by collecting bottles and cans, and asking relatives, friends and neighbors to help. Cayden's campaign has raised more than $11,700 - just a couple of thousands short of their $13,500 goal. The fundraiser closes March 28.

A week or so ago Cayden was standing in line behind his friend when a staffer took the lunch away from his friend and threw it away because he was over drawn by $5.00 on his lunch card. The staffer replaced the discarded lunch with a juice drink. Cayden could not believe what he had witnessed and it caused him to do something about it. That’s when he began his fundraising campaign. To date Cayden has paid off the delinquent accounts at his school and the school down the street. More will follow.

At the end of the presentation I mentioned that they may be just 7 and 8-year-olds but they have power as Cayden proved. After they left the auditorium to go back to class Karen Hobson and I spoke for a few minutes. She is going to discuss the One Can A Week program with the other teachers and will probably select one person to head the program as they did at the Miles School.

Sprouts – River Road
About 4:30 pm Lydia Dillon-Sutton walked up to the display table at Sprouts-Oracle on Wednesday and asked me to tell her about One Can A Week. Generally at the end of my monologue I tell folks that I am looking for volunteers to take over a Sprouts for 4 hours a week. “Any day?” she asked.

Yes, any day, but Wednesdays (coupon day) and Saturdays have the most traffic. She then said, “I’ll do it and I want Sprouts on River Road. That’s closer to home. I was driving by so I decided to do my shopping here this week.”

We both walked back to see Richard Rodriguez to get things moving forward but he had left for the day. I told Lydia I’d connect with Richard and get back to her.  I also mentioned that I may have to go slow because I’m in the process of finding a sponsor who can help with signage and expenses but she said there was no problem, she would get thing going herself.

That evening I was responding to an email about my push to create a national community service program and I decided to cc: Lydia too. A day later Lydia wrote back.

I just read your letter and of course I had no inkling of your interest in Native Americans. That has been my area of art for almost 40 years. Perhaps that was the connector. The connection was made and I'm looking forward to helping our community be fed.”

Of course I had to Google Lydia at that point and discovered, “holy cow” her beautiful art was everywhere on the web including major retail websites.

For some time now I have been saying there are folks out there who will step up right away once they hear about the simplicity and effectiveness of One Can A Week. Apparently I just have to get out in front of a lot more people. 
7th Truck Load – 2014
Well, it’s more like a truck and SUV load this week. When I got back in the cab at my fifth stop, the S10 just decided to not turn on. The battery and warning lights were flickering but nothing happened at all. Turns out the starter motor froze. No weeks of warnings, it just froze. When the mechanic at Brake Masters told me the repair bill would be $414.00, I did the same thing.

Most of the time in the next few hours was focused on one question while I waited for 2 pm to roll around so I could use Maen’s SUV to make a delivery to the food bank. Where the heck am I going to get that kind of money?

About 1:30 pm my friend Ernesto Portillo called and asked me where I was.

At home I told him and he said, “Good, can I come right over?”  

Ten minutes later he honked and I walked up to the open window of his large pickup. He handed me a check and I thought it was for the photos I recently took of the under carriage of his reconditioned 1955 Chevy pickup. We have been trying to sell that old but beautiful hunk of metal for over a year now. When I looked again at the check, I saw $300.00 this time.

“What’s this,” I asked.

“I sold her,” he said with a wide grin.

One second I’m in a major money quandary and the next second the solution drives up. I totally understand how to find food to feed hungry kids, but this money thing?  I have no clue about what is going on.

This week’s donations amounted to 770 lbs. and included River View Estates, 64 lbs.; Miles School, 108 lbs.; Sprouts (Speedway), 226 lbs.; Sprouts (Oracle), 250 lbs. and Miles Neighborhood, 122 lbs.

It’s good to go back … sometimes – When the S10 pickup died Sunday I had to revert to the hand truck and strapped on bin.  With that thing in tow I thought about the early days and how far we’ve come in the past five years. Since I am never going to quit until … well, my body does, I also thought about how much more we can do. Thinking about the future is so much more fun…that’s for sure.

We collected a total of 122 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $57.00, a $50.00 check and $7.00 in cash. 

See you Sunday,


Monday, March 3, 2014

269th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
A Major Breakthrough

Six days after our initial meeting at the Community Food Bank, Michael McDonald, the CEO sent me an email.


Instead of trying to launch the 2080 community service standardization and certification endeavor on your own as a stand-alone nonprofit what about finding the right, well-established civic engagement/leadership nonprofit under which to incubate it, e.g. Independent Sector, or The Aspen Institute?  

Might such an approach bring 2080 faster brand credibility and broader nonprofit sector support/adoption?


Michael’s idea gave me pause. All of my experience is on the corporate side, consequently, I am always thinking about ways to launch something to show viability and marketability. Sprouts is an example of my modus operandi.

Over the next few days I reviewed both The Independent Sector and The Aspen Institute websites and decided to start with Nadine Jalandoni at The Independent Sector. Ms. Jalandoni handles special projects. An automatic “Out of Office” reply came back with a promise to respond later but that never happened.

The Aspen Institute, an esteemed think tank was next.  According to their website The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues.”

In 2012, following an Aspen Ideas Festival, The Aspen Institute created a new program called the Franklin Project named after Ben Franklin who believed central to any democracy is citizen service. General (Ret.) Stanley McChrystal, former Commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan and Leadership Council Chair for the Franklin Project, began promoting a one-year conscription program for recent high school and college graduates. When I first learned of the Franklin Project about a year ago, I also learned about General McChrystal and an associate Alan Khazei. For this reason, I thought it might be a waste of time to present an opposing idea. Michael’s comments encouraged me to look at them again.

Alan Khazei—a very prominent social entrepreneur, founder and chief executive officer of Be the Change, Inc, Co-Chair of the Franklin Project and adjunct lecturer in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School—was more soft-spoken about conscription, a “Rite of Passage” as he called it. In earlier posts I’ve mentioned my Vietnam vet status and my lack of enthusiasm for drafting folks into service because such programs favor the rich and burden the poor. So I lean more toward Mr. Khazei’s kinder rite of passage approach and decided to connect with him.

Without much trouble I found Mr. Khazei’s email address on the Harvard University website. Under the subject line: Making Community Service a “Fact of Life” in America, I sent Mr. Khazei my Twenty Eighty Community Service proposal in an attachment and explained as briefly as possible my intensions. That was about 1 pm Monday morning, February 24th. At 7:23 AM I got a reply. 

“Thanks Peter for your interest in national service.
I and my colleagues will review your proposal and be back in touch.

All the best,


Each of those colleagues was cc:d in the email. In the next fifteen minutes I Googled them and was overwhelmed by their positions and spheres of influence. Mr. Khazei sent the Twenty Eighty Community Service proposal to: John Bridgeland, CEO of Civic Enterprises, a public policy firm in Washington, D.C. and  Co-Chair of the Franklin Project; Jason Mangone, Director for the Franklin Project; Zach Maurin, Co-Founder and Executive Director of and Varsha Subramanyam, Reproductive Health and Research Intern at the World Health Organization.

Based on the credential of the folks Mr. Khazei forwarded the proposal to, you know that he had to read it first. That fact was enough to keep me in a full smile mode for the rest to the day. The other thing that made me happy was all these national service executives have been thinking about a community service program that lasts only one year. The Twenty Eighty proposal encourages community service for a lifetime beginning in the third grade. Can’t wait to get the next email from Mr. Khazei.

Special Note: If you would like to review the seven-page Twenty Eighty Community Service Program proposal, just ask and I will forward it to you. Or read an Arizona Daily Star article here.

Sprouts Update

6th Truck Load - 2014
Got fooled by a bag of potatoes this week. Sprouts had their potatoes on sale— about 34 cents a pound—so while at the Oracle store on Wednesday I collected enough money to buy 90 lbs. Since it was going to rain on Saturday and I only have outdoor storage, I took the donation to the Food Bank on Thursday and forgot about it.

Saturday I bought 150 lbs., 80 lbs. for Sprouts-Speedway and 60 lbs. for Karen and Dot at DKA Associates. Even with 19 bags in the truck it still didn’t look like a 500 lb. load. Of course, the earlier Sprouts run to the Food Bank was still not in the mix yet.

While at the Food Bank today it all came together and I had no photo of this terrific haul. So I took one bag of potatoes back out to the truck, placed it in the center of the bed and immortalized it.

This week’s donations amounted to 586 lbs. and included River View Estates, 34 lbs.; Sprouts (Speedway), 168 lbs.; Sprouts (Oracle), 172 lbs.; and Miles Neighborhood, 212 lbs.

Surprise Cash Donation
One of the DKA shopping bags was too full. In the process of splitting the load I noticed a folded $20 bill. Usually cash donations are in an envelope or have a Post It note attached.  In response to my email query Dot wrote: “Hi Peter- Karen usually does the shopping, but is out of town today through the weekend. So go ahead and buy potatoes and I will check it out on Mon. If it was a mistake, I will reimburse it myself. Either way, we've still fed a lot more people!”

Dot’s famous for those everybody wins decisions!

We collected a total of 212 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $32.00, a $25.00 check and $7.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,