Big People? Big Building?by Peter Norback on Apr. 08, 2013, under Life
What’s the best way to determine if there is a huge problem
with hunger in America?
Every year the Community Food Bank pays tribute to its “valued volunteers” by throwing a very tasteful little party in their honor somewhere intriguing in the Tucson area. This year it was held Thursday afternoon at the Tucson Museum of Art. The Pete Swan Trio provided the background music and Café a la C’Art served an endless stream of fruit and chocolate and whipped cream petit fours in the Moore Courtyard.
I was there with my high school friend Merle Stolar sitting on a comfortable wall about 25 feet from the serving tables. We could see the array of petit fours but the distance helped to curb the cravings.
A little before the crowd appeared Bill Carnegie, the CEO of the Community Food Bank walked over to join us. Merle, ever friendly and inquisitive as always, asked Bill about his background and how he ended up in Tucson. In a few minutes I learned why the Food Bank is one of the best run nonprofits in the country. Bill is a career military man and while in the service earned his bachelor’s degree. At his first job out of the service he earned his Masters in nonprofit management.
|Inside view of CFB warehouse – Big as Costco but never full.|
What I was curious about was the public’s apparent lack of empathy for hungry folks. Feeding America is always showing photos of people in need and that does not seem to strike a chord with those who are not hungry. Bill’s response took me by surprise. “Many people,” he said, “question why they are hungry if so many are overweight. That is why we only accept healthy food, teach how to grow self sustaining gardens and promote healthy living.”
Really? On my drive home I thought, “People in general don’t know enough about the diets of the poor and invisible to know that they eat—when they can—very inexpensive carbohydrates and fats. Have these questioning people ever visited a convenience store or a bodega or listened to the news on TV or the internet?” Amazing!
Maybe the answer to push people’s empathy button is to do what I do with every new One Can A Week coordinator. We meet at the back door of the Community Food Bank and we walk up the ramp into the warehouse together. I stop them about 15 feet inside the door and suggest they look around. After a few seconds I ask, “What’s the first thing you thought about? What’s your first impression?’
Most stumble for an answer so I jump in quickly. “Look at this place. It’s huge. The building is huge. Big as a Costco. And this is America. We only have big building when we do big things. When we do small things, the buildings are tiny. Obviously, hunger here in Tucson is way out of control. Look at the size of this place?”
At this point I’m a bit animated but my guest is almost always silent and stunned. The good thing is after my enthusiastic cause and effect analysis, the coordinator sticks with his or her program week after week.
So education—actually, in your face kind of practical education—is the key to get folks to see the world as it really is.
The next time you are on the road, go check out the local food bank. It will be huge. And many of the poor kids and their parents are too; because they are eating stuff people with no money eat … carbs and fats. It all makes sense now, doesn’t it?
More the Merrier
There are 9 HOAs participating in the Old Fort Lowell Neighborhood One Can A Week – Four Cans a Month program, as they like to call it, and their totals keep going up. In the first quarter of 2013, Frank Flasch reports in an email that they dropped off 1,616 lbs. of food and $662 in cash at the food bank.
It wasn’t long before Ann Sajecki, Frank’s neighbor chimed in.”…don’t forget,” she wrote, “the Feinstein Foundation* is making a partial match of all food and money donated until the end of April.”
Now who could forget that?
We collected a total of 184 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $31.00, a $25.00 check and $6.00 in cash.
*”Founded in 1991 by Alan Shawn Feinstein, the Feinstein Foundation is dedicated to the alleviation of hunger, the importance of community service in education and the values of caring, compassion and brotherhood.” The foundation is located in Rhode Island.
See you Sunday,