playing pepper

Posted in aafb, food, food banks, fun with tags , , , , , on August 20, 2009 by foodbankguy

As it’s a food and a fun little baseball game during these last few hot summer days and nights, I thought playing a little pepper with a few things going on might be appropriate… 

an appropriate pepper mashup

an appropriate pepper mashup

My buddy Chet Provorse runs at ton of kids-related educational events and engagements on behalf of St. Mary’s Food Bank.  He also has a nifty blog–niftier than mine I might add–and one of his recent posts really touches the heart.  Seems that Cody Mitchell, an ambitious 7-year old kid from Glendale, has taken it upon himself to host a huge book sale to benefit the food bank after seeing a similar idea on TV.  And they say TV rots the kids’ brains…

Our friends at Western Refining have graciously decided for a second year in a row to donate 12,000 gallons of diesel fuel to help keep our Arizona Statewide Gleaning Project semi-trucks on the road.  That amount will keep them going for at least six months, and represents a huge donation that helps keep our trucking costs down, as well as those of the food banks who rely on us to help transport food around the state.   AAFB president Ginny Hildebrand was on hand to accept their generous gift:

I hope they have huge debit card readers at their pumps!

I hope they have huge debit card readers at their pumps!

Another good friend of mine with a far superior blog brought this article on fighting hunger to my attention.  Turns out a city in Brazil with a population of 2.5 million people has mostly solved their food insecurity issues by embracing community involvement in government decision making, all the while reducing health costs and mostly eliminating crippling social stigmas that come with people not having enough to eat.  A must read.

There was another great article early this week on how prison inmates are helping out food banks by growing and harvesting vegetables–something that we take advantage of for the aforementioned Arizona Statewide Gleaning Project.  This really is a win/win for communities, hungry people, and inmates who are making an honest effort toward rehabilitation.  As you probably already know, the U.S. incarcerates so many people–more so than any other first-world country, and shamefully in my opinion–that it’s nice to see the ocassional story about something positive coming from that.  And another plug for Ms. Hildebrand, who has a nice quote in the article.

Finally, Hunger Action Month is next month, so start making your plans!  Ladies in particular, Macy’s is calling–soon you’ll be able to purchase tickets that entitle you to sweet discounts while also benefitting your local food bank!

look ma, I’m on tv!

Posted in aafb, food drives, fun with tags , , , on August 13, 2009 by foodbankguy

Bashas’ and 3 TV were both very gracious in granting yours truly some quality face time to talk about the Bashas’ Back-to-School Food and School Supply Drive.  Unfortunately 3 TV’s website won’t let me embed, but follow the links for the fun.  Some people have said I look like a priest, so you know you gotta click!

On Good Morning Arizona

On NatsNews – a cool long-form web-only chat 

Fan mail, appearance demands, baby-kissing invitations, and autograph requests should be sent to…

summertime blues

Posted in aafb, budget, food, food banks, fun, random with tags , , , , , , on August 10, 2009 by foodbankguy

Man, has it been hot lately or what?  Hot enough that this is just nuts! KIDS:  DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!  The heat always seems to get me dragging a bit even though I’m a native, and indeed I have been way too lax in blogging lately.  Certainly there have been worthy things to share, but it’s just finding the time to get to them all… enough wallowing though, and on to interesting things!  Yes?  Yes!

Do you like to eat breakfast for dinner?  I sure do, and I plan to take part in the Hickman’s Eggs PJs & Eggs event this Friday, August 14 at various restaurants around Phoenix… Kiss the Cook in Glendale is where I’ll be, as it’s close to my pad.  Get free eggs, donate pajamas to foster kids, and help benefit Arizona’s Children Association… what more could you want?  Plus you are encouraged to actually wear your pajamas, which on one hand might be a good idea since you’ll get some Halloween-esque practice in, while on the other hand the pajamas I’m wearing in this heat would get me arrested… just don’t get arrested, that’s all I ask.

can your read all this fine print? if not, visit www.thehotsheetblog.com for details and participating locations

can you read all this fine print? no sweat, visit http://www.thehotsheetblog.com for details and participating locations

Fun… or not so fun… factoid: AAFB member food banks distributed an amazing 42.2% more food throughout Arizona in the 2008-09 fiscal year vs. 2007-08.  It’s truly remarkable to see the food banks step up to meet rising demand, but it’s also a sobering indication of just how hard the economy has hit many individuals and families.  We’ve also started hearing more stories like this, which is not good news at all.  Help out if you can.

Did I mention it’s hot outside?  Donate bottled water to your local food bank or homeless shelter because it’s definitely needed, and as an added bonus you’ll feel warm and fuzzy inside, if not actually cooler…

What else… hmmm… oh yeah, the state’s budget situation remains unresolved with little hope of an agreement that actually benefits the majority of Arizonans, food stamp participation is up to record levels–this despite many eligible households not taking advantage,  and it’s still hot.  In the words of my man Conan, be cool my babies!

fun in the sun & breaking budget movement

Posted in budget, food drives, fun, metro phoenix with tags , , , on July 29, 2009 by foodbankguy

First, the fun: the Back-to-School Clothing Drive at the Goodyear Swap Meet was this past Saturday, and while it was hot outside, participation was tremendous.  It was estimated that twice as much clothing was swapped this year compared to last, and fortunately there was an abundance of volunteers to sort the clothes.  Yours truly was there to help accept and transport food donations.  Bright and early Monday morning, I dropped off 200lbs of food to St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance.

Beyond the food though, it was great to see a community come together to support one another.  As you may know, the far westside of metro Phoenix, including Goodyear, has just been decimated by foreclosures and the poor economy.  This event was a great showing by those who are sticking it out and making it work, and it was very gratifying to see the community come together.  I also want to give a shout out to Jennifer, the Arizona Grocery Guru, who was very nice and proved popular with the locals.

Minor irritation: while I was out there, KPHO, the local CBS affiliate, was out there covering the event, which I presume aired on their evening news.  I tried to find a link on their website for you to check out, but damn if their website just sucks.  You can’t find specific videos if someone put a gun to your head.  With no ‘Videos’ menu choice, I had to use their search function, typing in “goodyear swap meet”… the seven results I got included amongst other things: Andy Rooney on Walter Kronkite, a video of a bird hitting an airplane, and something on Major League Soccer.  WTF?  Come on KPHO, you need to try harder here.  You’d think they’d want the extra hits, pageviews and videos played.

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Regarding Arizona’s budget, there appears to be some quick movement, with a possible vote coming as soon as tomorrow… this is probably not good news.  Looks like Brewer’s tax increase will be put to the ballot, but only because a bunch of other tax cuts aimed at big business and the wealthy will also be included.  Emerging details here and here.  Be sure to have your popcorn and/or tissues handy…

catching up

Posted in aafb, economy & politics, food banks, fun with tags , , , , , , on July 21, 2009 by foodbankguy

Wow, it’s been a while, so I wanted to catch up on a few things…

Bashas’ recent bankruptcy filing was unexpected and sad, in that you hate to see a local institution suffer.  All indicators are that they will come back better than ever, so we do have that to look forward to.  Bashas’ has been a longtime supporter of Arizona’s food banks, and there are other interesting tidbits here that you might not have known about.

The Arizona Daily Star began a series this past Sunday that profiles various different families severely affected by the recession.  While I think it’s a valid complaint that the series thus far has not offered any solutions or counter-stories of those finding successful ways to ride out the recession, these stories nonetheless offer a glimse into how just a single misstep or living with no margin for error can really affect people when things get ugly.  And if nothing else, a long-form, investigative-esque newspaper series is really something like a dodo sighting anymore; enjoy it while you still can.

You can support AAFB by having Better Deal Printing handle your next print order.   Based out of Prescott, but specializing in online orders, Better Deal is donating 10% of their sales to AAFB from now to the end of July.  They are also affordable and eco-friendly, so what else could you want?

Finally, I’ll be out at the Goodyear Swap Meet this Saturday for their annual Back-to-School Clothing Swap, handing out information on school breakfast and lunch programs.  In a nutshell, you can trade-in gently used clothing your child has outgrown for some of the same that fits. 

don't be square, come on out!

don't be square, come on out!

Sure, it’ll be hot, but I can assure you that swap meets are very, very cool!  I once bought one of these for peanuts at a swap meet!

budget update & personal reflections

Posted in aafb, budget, economy & politics, food banks with tags , , , , , on July 2, 2009 by foodbankguy

Here’s the latest, copped straight from the AAFB Public Policy page:  Governor Brewer has signed the Budget “feed bill” SB1188 with line item vetoes in various sections, including line item vetoing the lump sum reductions to DES and DHS. This permits State Government to continuing to keep the doors open.

She vetoed the BRB’s for Capital Outlay (SB1027), Higher Education (SB1029), State Properties (SB1031), General Government (SB1035) Revenue (SB1036), Health and Welfare (SB1145) and K-12 education (SB1187).

Read Governor Brewer’s Statement (PDF).  She has called a special legislative session beginning 1 p.m. on Monday, July 6 in hopes of reconciling the budget the legislature passed and her vetoes.

Advocates are supportive of this action by the Governor and are working to meet with her in the next hours or days to talk about how to make sure in the next budget plan services are preserved at a level that will permit the needed support for low-income, vulnerable Arizonans who need the services – such as food banks, soup kitchens, shelters, domestic violence centers, senior services, child care for working families and more. They are also seeking to work with all parties to encourage all to come to the table in the next round of the Special Session to work for a long term solution to Arizona’s fiscal crisis.

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no comment

no comment

With the official statement out of the way, let me just say that while I’m glad we avoided a government shutdown, this whole process has left much to be desired.  Arizona’s food banks have been preparing for budget cuts for some time now, and in many cases, are seeing an increase in private donations and federal commodities (specifically TEFAP food via the stimulus package) to help offset the huge increases in demand–up some 50-70% statewide this year so far.  How long this will keep up with spiked demand is anyone’s guess, but so far we are weathering the storm.

But it never should have come to this point.  Arizona has a revenue problem, not a spending problem, brought on by the crippling local housing market and depressed consumer spending.  When times were good, the spending was accounted for without a problem–now, should we have put some away in a rainy day fund?  Sure, but the truth is the spending was in-line with Arizona’s population and wealth growth before the economy tanked.  So rather than looking at innovative ways of raising revenues (and much-needed long-term tax revenue stabilization strategies, something long overdue in Arizona), crazy Republican in-fighting has produced deep cuts and a stick-your-head-in-the-stand approach to revenues.  Way to put ideology over reality. 

So here we are.   This isn’t just party politics, we’ve got one party so fragmented that it cannot produce a budget in the best interest of the state or the people they serve.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  If nothing else, it’s been an interesting trial-by-fire for me as I dig deeper into local politics than ever before.  Somebody better drop a rope down if I get too deep!

breaking budget update

Posted in budget, economy & politics, food banks with tags , on June 26, 2009 by foodbankguy

It appears as though a “handshake” budget agreement has been worked out between Governor Brewer and the Arizona Legislature, but details remain fuzzy and it is uncertain as to whether the Legislature has the votes to get it passed by Tuesday’s deadline. Some information is being reported here and here, as well as by the Arizona Guardian (subscription required).  More tomorrow probably…