Archive for March, 2009

playing the blame game

Posted in economy & politics, unemployment on March 26, 2009 by foodbankguy

As you know, it’s become very fashionable to blame everything on the economy.  I can understand that line of thinking, since a fair amount of stuff can be properly attributed to our current economic situation.  However, it also has become a far too convenient excuse because no one bother to contest it–you never hear anyone say “wait, wait, hold up… what you’re talking about is your fault, not the economy’s!”

Case in point:  in this corner, we have one of the few stories I’ve read that exposes how some successful employers are taking advantage of the opportunity to needlessly cut costs while avoiding condemnation.  This is a great  in-depth article highlighting the plight of workers who were perhaps unfairly laid off, while also questioning why no one in the media is reporting it; I highly encourage you to read it.  Without too much trouble, you can also find articles on certain industries who are thriving in this economy, such as online advertising, since changing consumer habits happen to be making traditional advertising less attractive to many advertisers.

And in the other corner is Google, who I actually like; I mean, I use their products almost daily because they deliver reliability and accuracy.  However, Google just announced they are laying off 200 employees, most of whom sell advertising, because as the Yahoo Tech News article claims, “even highly profitable companies are feeling the recession’s pinch.”  But wait, I thought online advertising was flourishing?

And what does Yahoo Tech News have to say for itself?  Nothing–they’re just mindlessly reporting on how Google just has to cut costs in this economy, because that’s what all good little companies do in times like these, never questioning the fact that Google is not hurting for cash and that the majority of layoffs are in a sector that’s projected to thrive.  Not that Yahoo Tech should be all investigative, but come on, what happened to some healthy skepticism?

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hunger walk this past saturday in tucson

Posted in food banks, fun, southern az on March 23, 2009 by foodbankguy

Community Food Bank in Tucson held its second annual Hunger Walk this past Saturday at Sam Lena Park, right next to where the Diamondbacks spring training practice fields are.  We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day, as we had sunny skies, no wind, and mid-70s for the walk.  Participants were treated to a tour of the food bank, free coffee courtesy of the American Red Cross, members of the U of A marching band, goodie bags, and more.  Overall, more than $1,500 was raised, along with 972lbs of donated food.

The walk itself was neat, as people could choose whether they were up for a long (3.5 mile) or short (1 mile) walk:

choices, choices

choices, choices

 Another fun feature was people could choose a “sleep in” option, which allowed them the luxury of staying in their beds for a $25 donation.   My understanding is that the roughly 1.5 million people in the greater Tucson area who didn’t turn up will be receiving their bill in the mail sometime this week!

finishing up the walk, feeling good about the cause

finishing up the walk, feeling good about the cause

I volunteered to help out because I’d never participated in an event like this, and I wanted to steal all their ideas–err… see how all the inter-workings work.  I was there bright and early at 6 a.m., helping erect a large metal archway for the starting line, putting up signs, tents and chairs along the walk path, and generally help out as needed.

A big thanks and shout-out goes to Jake and James of Community Food Bank who put up with my silly questions and need to tag along at every opportunity.  James drives a semi for the food bank, while Jake works in the warehouse managing  food drives and transportation.  They let me help unload a truck back at the warehouse, operate a pallet-jack and start-up their brand new diesel hybrid Peterbilt truck, thus showing extremely poor judgment on their part, but allowing me to indulge my inner blue-collar dreams.  I even got my parents to turn up and walk!  All in all, good fun for a good cause.

partners in crime, enablers, good people

partners in crime, enablers, good people

everyone loves weiners!

Posted in food banks, fun on March 20, 2009 by foodbankguy

…especially when they visit in mobile-form at St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance!

yeah baby!

yeah baby!

remember when ‘get a job’ seemed like no big deal?

Posted in economy & politics, food banks, homelessness on March 20, 2009 by foodbankguy
panhandler-goes-to-work3 

at least he has a job - photo by Gary Millard, Four White Walls

 When I was 16 years old, in the summer between my junior and senior years of high school, I walked into a wallet and leather goods outlet store near my parent’s house, applied for a job, and a week later was their newest associate. I didn’t apply anywhere else and I certainly wasn’t thinking about what would happen if I didn’t land the job. Sixteen years later and my wife’s baby sister, having just graduated from high school, applied to over 40 jobs of comparable quality this spring… and didn’t receive a single phone call.

Indeed times are tough these days, as evidenced by a recent article in the Arizona Republic on rising unemployment and the introduction of a somewhat startling statistic: as many as 14.8% of Arizona could be unemployed when defined as ‘discouraged workers’ who have given up looking and part-timers unable to land a full-time gig. Perhaps just as amazing are the number of comments on the article authoritatively declaring the discouraged as simply lazy, worthy of any and all wrath that entails. But are they really just lazy? Nobody likes to have their time wasted, running around for seemingly no reward. And besides, aren’t we the same society who celebrates Homer “You tried your best and failed miserably. The lesson is, never try” Simpson?

As unemployment spikes, it’s probably not a surprise that homelessness is doing the same, and shockingly, much of that increase is due to families:  a whopping 370% increase in homeless families.  No doubt these families’ primary earners started off simply unemployed, moved on to discouraged, before finally getting off at the end of the line at homeless. 

What do all these folks have in common?  Whether unemployed, underemployed, discouraged, homeless or something else, they all sit in the food bank sweet spot. The demand on food banks has increased lock-and-step with these increases, and while the public has been incredibly generous thus far in 2009, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t concern about the future.

keeping up with the peanut recall

Posted in food on March 18, 2009 by foodbankguy

With so many products being affected by the peanut recall, it’s tough to keep track.  Most people don’t even realize that the recall does not include actual name brand peanut butter!  Fortunately, the FDA has come up with a neat little widget that allows you to enter in any product you have questions about and it will tell you whether or not its been recalled.  Unfortunately, the FDA has marketing outreach power only slightly more impressive than my dog, so this may be the first you’ve seen or heard of it… therefore, spread the word and use it wisely!

FDA Product Recall List

welcome

Posted in housekeeping with tags , on March 13, 2009 by foodbankguy

Welcome to my work-in-progress blog.  My hope is that I can get people thinking and talking about hunger and related issues inside and outside of Arizona.  I hope to be able to post often, give an insiders view of the industry, and get people engaged enough to help out in their communities, whether that be by volunteering, disseminating information, contributing funds and other needed stuff, collaborating with their local food bank, etc.  Thanks for visiting!