Monday, April 21, 2014

Hi Folks,
This Week in Photos
Sprouts on Oracle (left) and Sprouts on Speedway displaying baskets of watermelons.
Fun Food
Sprouts’ Flyer featured a great special this week. Personal sized and flavor-packed watermelons for only 10 cents a pound. Although the announcement was emblazoned across the top of the flyer just under the header, I didn’t see it. My eye perceived the header as just a bit bigger this week. Consequently after my stint at Sprouts – Oracle on Wednesday I purchased 104 lbs. of potatoes. (See first Truck Load below.)

What did get my attention at Sprouts – River Road the next day was a huge bin of watermelons on a hand forklift maneuvering through the automatic doors as I approached. When I stopped to let the store clerk pass I noticed the 10 cents per pound sign on the side of the bin. I then checked the flyer again and sure enough there is was. 

                                     All the Props in Place 
As I was deciding to purchase the watermelons I realized hungry folks seldom experience food for the fun of it. Hunger is just so serious. Then I thought about the size, the temperature outside and spring is here. Yep, these Sprouts watermelons are going to the Community Food Bank. For a little over $60 I purchased over 600 lbs. of smile inducing watermelons for folks who dine regularly at soup kitchens all over town … old ladies on social security, families, homeless vets and kids. Now that makes me smile. How about you?

On Wednesday, Michael McDonald, the new Community Food Bank CEO met with Richard Rodriguez, Sprouts – Oracle Store Director and me. And we were ready for Michael with a brand new display giving customers the option of quickly snatching up cans of tuna or beans while moving through the checkout line. Also the food bin had a spiffed up sign with no coffee stains on it. (In the beginning customers often think the bin is for trash until they read the sign.)

We talked for about 40 minutes and Michael was most impressed with the transparency of the One Can A Week program which is supported by weekly Community Food Bank donation receipts and Sprouts Farmers Market cash register receipts.

What impressed Richard and me the most is Michael took the time out of his very busy schedule to learn about our “everybody wins” community service program.  

Sprouts Farmers Market Update
One Can A Week has been in operation at Sprouts for a little under 8 months and we have collected 7,963 lbs. of food. Next week we will cross the four tons mark. Since all the food was purchased and then donated, that makes us all proud and generous capitalists.

Over 1,000 lbs. Again This Week

13th Truck Load - 2014
All this Sprouts shopping experience is making me a better shopper for myself. The $102.41 cash donation Sprouts customers pitched in the wicker basket this week netted 878 pounds of high quality food. That comes out to 12 cents a pound (rounded up). What I am doing is looking for low prices in a super quality supermarket and when I find something that might qualify, I ask myself, “Is it nutritious and would it be fun to eat?” When I get a yes to my questions I load up the shopping cart. That’s fun, too.

On my side of the equation, I’m buying more fruits and vegetables and wonderful tasting stuff like bacon on sale. I’m getting more variety and surprise, surprise the pounds pushing my belt from the inside are sliding away. Oh, and my food budget is shrinking, too.

Here’s an idea. How about going to Sprouts, take $10 out of your wallet and choose something low priced and delicious. Or get the $10 to me and I’ll do it for you. Of course, you know I’ll keep records on my records.

I like this idea better than trying to live on the $4.25 daily food stamp allotment. That’s supposed to teach folks of means what it’s like to be hungry every day. How about taking that $30 a week and go shopping at Sprouts for the hungry kids. You’ll feel better not starving yourself for a week while helping so many Americans “Have a Nicer Day.”  

This week’s donations amounted to 1,068 lbs. and included River View Estates, 22 lbs.; Sprouts (Speedway), 430 lbs.; Sprouts (Oracle), 124 lbs.; Sprouts (River Road), 324 lbs. and Miles Neighborhood, 168 lbs.

Mapping of the Meal Gap
Feeding America has received the funding to map the level of food insecurity in each of the 3,000 plus counties in the United States. This brings the message home to local communities that hunger is everywhere, even just next door. Here is the Map the Meal Gap link.

The map is interactive. Just slide your mouse over the counties to discover the awful truth. In Pima County the child food insecurity rate is 25.9%. This means that when you see four kids on the playground, one isn’t really having any fun at all.

We collected a total of 168 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $36.00 a $25.00 check and $11.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, April 14, 2014

275th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
It's Always a Stand Up Job
When You Help Folks Help

The cute little girl with the pink headband and the pink outfit had little interest in waiting in the checkout line with her mother. She was maybe four-years-old and was ready to move out at any given moment. Her mother was used to her impatience and wanderlust so she initiated subtle course corrections with her hand or a soft spoken word all the while guiding her groceries down the conveyor belt toward the cashier. The mother was a professional multitasker for sure.

This slow motion shopping ballet happened in the checkout line directly in front of my display table so I saw all of the intricate patterns and moves. As the cashier tallied the sale, the woman took out her wallet and then a credit card. She held her wallet for a moment while her daughter stepped into the aisle to wait, looking longingly at the front entrance. Her mother pulled a single bill out of her wallet and folded it in half as it emerged. She then called her daughter a couple of time to get her attention. “Please come her,” she calmly said, “I want you to do something for me.”

With a bit of reluctance the little pink tyke walked back to her mother who handed her the bill and told her to put it in the basket. She palmed the bill as her mother had so even in her tiny hand the denomination was not visible. The bill was flipped to the back of the basket where I got my first glimpse. My adrenaline caused a shockwave to race through my body. A $100 bill. “Really?” I said in disbelief looking directly into the woman eyes. She just nodded and smiled as she pushed the cart, daughter in hand toward the entrance.

“Google One Can A Week on Tuesday,” I said, “I am going to write about this.”

“Don’t write about us,” she replied turning back to look at me.

“No, I’m going to write about my shock and reaction to your gift.”

She smiled and continued walking.

The bill sat in the basket as shown in the photo above for many, many minutes. I wanted Carrie Williams, the assistant manager to see it. She was busy so it took her nearly 45 minutes to return to the front of the store. I kept checking half of Ben Franklin’s face every few minutes to make sure he was still there. Eventually I covered up the image with a dollar bill just to be safe.

When Carrie arrived I showed her the bill. She was just as surprised as I was. “Did you ask the customer if she had made a mistake?”

“Really?” is what I said to her,” I replied. “The customer nodded yes.”


We talked more for a minute or so and I told her about a volunteer tryout earlier in the morning. The volunteer came in and immediately pulled out a stool from under the counter behind the display table and sat down. As gently as I could I told her that One Can A Week is a stand up job because we have to show we are very interested in our program all of the time. The volunteer said she had a medical condition and could not stand for four hours. Right away I told her I would think of something else for her to do.

She did not agree with my strategy, however, and mentioned all she had to do was smile. I told her that would not do and gave her an example of walking down a row of booths at a street fair. “People are more comfortable walking up to a person standing at the front of the booth and often pass those merchants who are working with their head down, reading a book or otherwise occupied.”

The volunteer slid off the stool and walked through the automatic doors muttering, “That is the craziest thing I ever heard.”
Carrie’s response to my story was immediate. “You must be engaged at all times,” she began. “That is the best customer service and we pride ourselves on being engaged. I tell our team members, no slouching, no leaning on things, do something and be ready for the next customer.” She paused a moment and then asked a few hypothetical manager questions, “What about that $100 bill? Would she ask the customer if there were a mistake? Would she take that bill? After all, no one is watching or checking.”

Carrie was called away and I stood there for some time just thinking about our conversation. I felt better after the rejection from the tryout volunteer because Sprouts Farmer’s Market is the perfect place for One Can A Week. They stand up and look out for all of their customers, too.

This is How Much a $100 Bill Creates
Potatoes, String Beans, Strawberries and more Potatoes
When the $100 bill dropped into the wicker basket there were only a half dozen $1 bills to keep it company. But after the word got out to all of the cashiers, the excitement began to bubble over. James, The Megaphone, as I affectionately call him, mentioned One Can A Week to lots of customers as they came through his line. James is well liked and his regular customers often follow his lead. At the end of my stint, we collected a total of $159.08. This is another Sprouts-River Road record.

The $159.08 purchased 310 lbs. of potatoes, 28 lbs. of fresh string beans and 22 lbs. of very tasty strawberries. With a total weight of 360 lbs., the average cost per pound was 0.79 cents. In the past when I purchased cans of beans, not fresh produce, the $159.08 would have netted 167 lbs. of black beans at 0.89 cents per can.

Not only can we buy a lot more fresh produce, we feed hundreds of kids and older women and men almost immediately. The fresh produce I deliver in the morning is shipped out to church and agency kitchens in the afternoon.

While at the Community Food Bank Friday morning I spoke to Jacob Coldsmith, the Logistics Manager and he said it would be great to see a photo of all those produce filled shopping carts in a row. He was right and lucky for me I took that very photo during all of the excitement at Sprouts the day before. Thanks, Jacob, for giving me the idea to share that excitement with everyone else.

Sprouts Farmers Market Update

1,112 Pounds
So much food this week even a
half ton pickup couldn't carry it all in one trip.

The 1,112 pounds of food is a new donation record and beats the old record of 901 lbs. three weeks ago by a hefty sum. It just goes to show that Feeding America and the Community Food Bank are absolutely correct when they say that “creating awareness” is an essential part of their campaign to feed hungry kids and folks in America. Think about it, each One Can A Week expansion into a new Sprouts Farmers Market proves their point. Customers are exposed to the need every time they go shopping and the donation of quality food soars week after week.

This week’s donations amounted to 1,112 lbs. and included River View Estates, 42 lbs.; Sprouts (Speedway), 196 lbs.; Sprouts (Oracle), 222 lbs.; Sprouts (River Road), 360 lbs.; Shiva Vista, 60 lbs.; Miles School, 92 lbs. and Miles Neighborhood, 140 lbs.

Special Note: Donations over 500 lbs. per week is considered a truck load. Since fresh produce requires more timely delivers to the Community Food Bank coupled with the 1,000 lb. capacity of the Chevy S10, there may be more than two photos of loaded trucks in the future.

Light summer staples
The Community Food Bank is looking to provide children and families lots of quality cereal and peanut butter for the summer months ahead. Fry’s is asking you to donate these items throughout June. Also, if you notice, many of our neighbors already got the message. (See photo on the right.) So let’s keep the cereal and peanut butter coming.

We collected a total of 140 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $31.00, a $25.00 check and $6.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, April 7, 2014

274th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,

Megan Guthrie, Miles neighbor creates spot-on One Can A Week news video
Click on links or photo link to view video.
On a Sunday last fall, Megan Guthrie’s dad stopped me at his front door to tell me how proud he was that his daughter just got accepted into the graduate program at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. In late February of this year Megan asked me if she could do a story on One Can A Week but her professor had to approve the project first. If a student wanted to report on a social project it had to be new and different she informed me.

To help her sell the idea, I sent Megan a bullet point fact sheet filled with “new and different” things about One Can A Week. That did the trick and a few weeks ago Megan shot the video that also included appearances by Richard Rodriguez, the Store Director at Sprouts – Oracle and Jack Parris, the Public Relations Manager at the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona.

Megan only had one minute and forty-one seconds to tell the story so this is what she did. From our different vantage points in the One Can A Week program, Richard, Jack and I come to the same conclusion. One Can A Week is easy on everyone who gets involved and it helps people help. Although none of our dialog was scripted our similar assessments highlighted what motivates neighbors, supermarket shoppers and corporate managers to help feed the hungry … a charity program that is simple, quick and easy. Now that’s new … and really different, isn’t it? 
Sprouts - River Road opening sets new record

Only the Store Director and assistant manger knew One Can A Week was going to appear Thursday morning in the Sprouts - River Road store.  Within minutes after setting up the display table near the front entrance several cashiers and baggers asked for an explanation. They were delighted I was collecting donations for the Community Food Bank.

About twenty minutes into the morning a gentleman walked up to the table, took two dollars from his wallet and placed them in the wicker basket. This was a very good sign. I thanked him and told him he was the very first person to donate in the River Road store. He appreciated the news and smiled widely as he pushed his shopping cart out of the store.

About mid way through the morning, Carrie, the assistant manager stepped up to the bin and stooped a bit to pear in. Her face took on a disappointed look as she walked away. I was touched by her interested even though the bin was still empty. That soon changed when two gentlemen dropped off some expensive olive oil and cooking sauce. 

The wicker basket was beginning to fill with lots of dollar bills and a most welcomed $5 bill. Then James, a well liked cashier—whose regular customers greeted him with boisterous salutations—walked up to the table while on break and dropped a $20 bill on top of all those $1s. “I’m retired and this job makes that possible,” he said.

With James’ $20 bill along with 18 other folks’ $1 bills I was able to purchase ten 10-pound bags of potatoes. That many potato bags in a shopping cart always piques nearby shoppers’ interest and they have to say something. “How many fries are you going to make?” Or “You’re having a party?”

This time the woman in front of me in line just asked, “What are those for?” After I told her I was purchasing the potatoes for the Community Food Bank’s Agency Market she dug into her purse and handed me a $10 bill.  “You can use that for next week,” she suggested.  

As I maneuvered out of line I replied, “No, I’m going back for more. Thank you very much.”

Now I had $48 which purchased 132 lbs. of potatoes. In addition people donated 8 pounds of food. The total weight of 140 lbs. set a record. Speedway’s first donation was 50 lbs. and Oracle’s, 26 lbs. In those days I used to purchase cans that cost about 89 cents per pound. After recalculating for the potato price of 35 cents a pound, both Speedway and Oracle were still lower. So its official, River Road is the new first day leader.

When I checked out I got back into James’ line because I wanted him to see what his generosity produced. His cash stayed in the store and helped his company’s bottom line while at the same time he helped provide a great many people with Sprouts-quality food. James experienced One Can A Week’s win-win situation. Bet he’ll do it again … soon.

11th Truck Load - 2014
Now that we are supplying the Community Food Bank’s Agency Market with fresh Sprouts potatoes I make two runs (Monday and Friday) to keep the produce really fresh. It’s only eight miles to the food bank and back which costs $1.28 in gas. Think about it, for $1.28 more a week we get to donate many hundreds of pounds more of fresh potatoes. It is so worth it.

This week’s donations amounted to 638 lbs. and included River View Estates, 48 lbs.; Sprouts (Speedway), 194 lbs.; Sprouts (Oracle), 120 lbs.; Sprouts (River Road), 140 lbs.; Ward 6, 20 lbs. and Miles Neighborhood, 116 lbs.

Volunteer Appreciation Day
Anna and her family took a much needed and fun day trip. Kym took a sick day, I’m sorry to say, so Sunday was a reminder of what it was like in the old days when I first started One Can A Week. Lots of stops and lots of chit chat with the neighbors. Chit chat is always the fun part.

It was a little tired when I finished at 3 pm but not too burned out to think about Anna and her family and Kym. Their help each Sunday is really important to me and One Can A Week. However, I do feel more appreciation for their contribution whenever they have to take a little time off … that’s for sure.

We collected a total of 116 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $35.91, a $25.00 check and $10.91 in cash.

See you Sunday,


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,