Tuesday, May 13, 2014

279th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,

Food Stamps are often a bridge to prosperity.

A week … sometimes even a day … doesn’t go by without someone telling me about the rampant abuse of our welfare system. One story comes out about a guy in California who bought lobster on a SNAP card and the nay saying bullies are set for years to finger point and name call.

To counter this nonsense I break out a few facts like 40% of the folks the food bank serves are older women. “You’ve seen the photos of these grandmothers sitting on their porches. They try to get by on their $500 social security check. It just doesn’t make it. Then you have 71% of TUSD students on a full or assisted food program. No lobster there either.”

Facts shut them down when they are around me but information never changes their minds. What would change their thinking? Do they just want to see the one bad story and ignore the millions of good folks working hard to break free from poverty? Where are those stories? I know there are stories everywhere.

On a number of occasions some Sprouts shoppers have dropped a donation on the display table and say they are just giving back. They had to rely on the Community Food Bank years ago and now they are doing much better.

So I know the stories are there but how come folks, ordinary and extra ordinary folks aren’t speaking up. They probably are but like me they aren’t making much headway.

These thoughts made me mad which made me think and suddenly when I least expected it, out popped an idea.

How about if everyone who has had some serious food insecurity in their lives—famous and not so famous—copped an attitude and faced down those bullies…in unison.

I imagined a well know person wearing a T-shirt or pin button that reads: “Say Something bad about me. I was on food stamps, too.” Right away the conversation would turn to, “Well, you’re a special person and your family got into trouble.” There probably would not be any conversation at all if the pin button or T-shirt were on a Hollywood or TV star or an NFL player.

Then imagine that no matter where the bully looked, “Say Something bad about me” pin buttons and T-shirts were being worn by all kinds of folks … those who were hungry … those who are hungry now … and whose who just want to help feed the hungry.

Rosa Parks had to break a law to ignite the public to sanction stupidity. This is America, of course, so speaking ill of those seeking to feed their kids and themselves is not against the law. However, it is just as stupid as requiring citizens to give up a seat based on the color of their skin.

Show this idea to your friends and anyone of influence in Tucson. Like One Can A Week, Say Something bad about me is a very simple way to create good stories and silence the bullies who take pleasure in other folks’ pain. 

Or you can go online and make inexpensive T-shirts or pin buttons and motivate your friends that way.

Special Note: Everything I create is in the public domain. Take the idea and run with it.

  The Atlantic Charts the Frugal Lives
of Those Living on Public Assistance Programs

Back in December, Jordan Weissmann, a writer for The Atlantic took information from the Bureau of Labor Statics' 2011 Consumer Expenditure Survey and created a chart that clearly shows how meager a lifestyle those on public assistance live. Mr. Weissmann wrote: "On average, they (families) spend $30,582 in a year, compared to $66,525 for families not on public assistance."

If you are not going to produce your own Say Something bad about me T-shirt then I suggest you print out the chart above and be ready to show some reality to the next fact-challenged bully you meet. I am going to do both.

Sprouts Farmers Market Update

In no time at all cans go from the display
to the checkout line and back to the
food donation bin.

This is the new display at the Sprouts-Speedway store. Theresa, the store director said she did not like the TV table display but had no time until now to build something Sprouts-appropriate. And is it ever. By the end of the week the display looks really picked over and the bin is filled to the brim.

Bill, the security guard says it is fun to watch the shoppers spot the display, leave the checkout line briefly to select a can or three to buy for the food bank and then hurry back to the cash register.  

Yep, that is fun to watch. 

16th Truck Load – 2014
 Hot potatoes are not good when it’s the sun doing the baking so every Thursday there will be a run to the food bank right after the Sprouts – River Road stint. This keeps the potatoes cool and Fridays free for me … something that is also cool.

This week’s donations amounted to 738 lbs. and included River View Estates, 12 lbs.; Sprouts (Speedway), 240 lbs.; Sprouts (Oracle), 170 lbs.; Sprouts (River Road), 184; and Miles Neighborhood, 132 lbs.

There’s Always a Story
Greg Harrison, the warehouse records clerk was fumbling a bit counting the Miles Neighborhood donation. There were a lot of quarters. I thought he wouldn’t mind the hassle so much if he knew the reason for all that change.

Days earlier I did not have any bills but I wanted to buy a couple of lottery tickets. And so not to embarrass myself in front of my friend Maen, I exchanged my laundry money for some bills. Next he had to count all of the dollars which were given to me by John, another friend… and his friend … who just won the Kentucky Derby pool at a house party. This was their second year at winning the pool and they are starting a tradition of turning over the winnings to the Community Food Bank.

Greg finished counting the money and looked up at me with that “too much information” expression all over his face.

We collected a total of 132 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $126.00, a $25.00 check and $101.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


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