163rd Week Update – Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Projectby Peter Norback on Feb. 21, 2012, under Life
|Photo By Jill Torrance, New York Times photographer|
The regular breakfast crowd slid by my display table at the Rincon Market this past Saturday morning, some nodded, some dropped a bill or two in the collection plate. We know each other by sight but not by name. It’s been like that for two years now.
A gentleman dressed in his usual expensive business-casual attire—a standout in the mix of sweat pants and tee shirts in various stages of decomposition—took out his billfold and also as usual, extracted a dollar bill and dropped it on the plate. Then he introduced his brother-in-law who stood next to him. The brother-in-law looked somewhat older so I imagined the gentleman had an older sister.
The conversation quickly turned to the plight of the hungry here in Tucson. The brother-in-law was startled to learn that about 250,000 parents and their kids out of about a million people are affected. To keep their interest I mentioned that business folks were not helping build a strong workforce for their kids and grand kids because the hungry kids now in school are undernourished and their brains and bodies are not developing as they should.
“There’s some long term planning that has to be done,” the gentleman said taking his brother-in-law’s elbow and coaxing him toward the coffee counter.
“Long term planning?” I thought, my eyes narrowing. “What about the parents who are also hungry … even more so probably? What about their productivity now? What about their mental state now?”
Those words never made it out of my head. But something else did occur to me. I was trying to tailor my statements to motivate them to respond. Business folks might view the problem as it relates to them and the next generation of business owners … perhaps even their own kids … and maybe they may do something about it other then leave a mess to clean up.
Then my thoughts turned personal. Why do I do this every week? Why do I care? I’m no do-gooder and I certainly don’t like joining anything.
The closest I’ve ever been to being hungry as a kid was when my folks forgot to buy the groceries one time and my three brothers and I had to have white bread and molasses for breakfast. The memory of that stinging flavor still makes me crinkles my face and shake my head.
Then there were a few time in the early days of authoring in New York City where I had to think of some clever accounting approaches to wangle a little more advance money out of my publishers. But I never skipped a meal.
My religious background is Catholic, however about my 21st birthday I decided to quit. My motivation was my total disdain for suffering. And anyway, by that time, all of the great men and women who had come before me had laid out all of the advice I would ever needed to run the gauntlet of life. Plato, Confucius, Martin Luther King, Jr., Jesus, Margaret Mead, Descartes, Eleanor Roosevelt, Mohammad, Socrates, and so on, succinctly described the best path to follow.
My favorite adage, of course, is “Do unto others…” because that’s the only rule anyone ever needs. I’m also fond of brevity.
All of these elements are part of my person and persona. However, the essence of my being is I am an idea person. With One Can A Week, I thought of a very simple and fun way to eliminate hunger in America. One neighbor helps one hundred or so neighbors to help thousands of needy families. And all I have to do is spend three hours a week picking up the food and cash donations.
Piece of cake! And that’s why I do it. My neighbors and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel for hunger in America. Will others like me step up? Who knows? But one thing is for sure, the neighbors are ready, willing and able to help if they do.
Axis is Back
Maen, owner of the Axis Food Mart and his customers donate to the Community Food Bank at the close of nearly every sale. Last Friday Maen decided to count the change and ended up with enough money to buy 10 cases of 32 oz. Gatorade that weighed in at 272 lbs. Next time you visit the Axis Food Mart, thank Maen and drop a few pennies or dimes in the Food Bank Bucket. It does add up.
We collected a total of 466 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $33.65, a $25.00 check and $8.65 in cash.
See you Sunday,