Bad Taste

To the Editor,

Regarding "Food For Thought" (Tucson Weekly, April 3): I was thoroughly disappointed in your blindside attack on Punch Woods and the Community Food Bank. Quite simply, Punch Woods is the finest person that I know in Tucson. He is also the Mailbag best human service administrator I know. In his years of leadership at the Community Food Bank, he has successfully managed its meteoric growth with wisdom, vision and care. The recent ambitious efforts by the staff and board of the Community Food Bank to serve the needs of the hungry people of Tucson should be applauded by the Tucson Weekly.

Instead, in your continued childish efforts to show that you have more courage than The Arizona Daily Star, you have printed an unresearched and innuendo-filled news story hiding behind the label of an editorial. Correct me if I am wrong, but the Tucson Weekly seems to have uncovered yet another disgruntled, incompetent former employee (see your earlier attack on the Tucson Center for Women and Children), intent on punishing the institution that handed out the pink slip. You are right; the Star is a lousy paper. But if you want to be better then the Star, then do your homework and be better journalists, not cheap-shot snipers.

The decision to purchase the South Country Club Food Bank property was made after a year of careful research, study and financial calculation by a board sub-committee of smart, skilled, educated and dedicated community members. It was an ambitious and necessary step to provide food more effectively to all in Pima County who need it. It was always understood by those involved that, to be successful, this effort would take the full financial and moral support of the Tucson community. Your irresponsible and erroneous "editorial" seems intent on undercutting that support at a time when the Food Bank needs it most. You should be ashamed of yourselves.

--Corky Poster

To the Editor,

It is so easy to point fingers and interpret information to support our own views ("Food For Thought," Tucson Weekly, April 3). The real interpretation of the Food Bank memo is exactly what it says: The Food Bank's financial problem is a Pima County hunger crisis. Pima County has more than tripled in size in the last 15 years. Many people move to our city with big dreams of a good-paying job and cheap rent, often finding neither. Instead, they end up needing help, usual food help. We have not raised the welfare benefits in more than 10 years--a single mother must support herself and her child on only $276 per month! Now the welfare reform is cutting many off food stamps and even cutting the measly welfare benefits people were trying to live on. It is our problem--all of us--not the Food Bank's problem!

As for your suggestion that a business management expert might fix our crisis: Many companies and nonprofits are caught in the same delusion. The reality is that this doesn't work. This is a community problem and requires community participation, not an expert cutting corners and treating people and the planet like objects--which is, of course, the main cause of this problem to begin with....

--Shirley Pevarnik

To the Editor,

Yes, we have financial difficulties at the Community Food Bank ("Food For Thought," Tucson Weekly, April 3). This is due to the fact that every day we are besieged with requests for food. Obviously, in order to meet those requests, we must first have food. And in order to provide food, we must be able to receive, store and distribute food--all of which requires a building large enough to accommodate the growing needs of the Pima County community. Needs which continue to grow each year.

None of what is occurring is new or surprising. The Community Food Bank Board of Directors recognized a long time ago that in order to provide an adequate facility from which we could operate, significant modifications to our budget and our operations would be required. Quite simply, we have been getting our financial house in order for some time. Through the efforts of the dedicated staff and a committed Board, we expect to continue to reduce costs so that we can both provide food and a place where it can be stored.

The Board and staff continue to work together to reorganize the day-to-day management of the Community Food Bank and to develop a strategic operational and fund-raising plan which allows us to continue to carry out our mission and respond to the ever-growing community need.

--Ruben Suarez

To the Editor,

I am writing to tell you that I found the editorial "Food for Thought" (Tucson Weekly, April 3) absolutely irresponsible. Calling the huge increase in demand for food bank services which has resulted in food programs having to cut back on the amount of food they can offer each person (a situation which food programs are struggling with nationwide) "a public relations dusting designed to camouflage some ugly open sores on a seriously sick organization" is beyond belief.

While community organizations, struggling to get by on a shoestring and tons of volunteer labor, are working hard just to help hungry families eat, what possible purpose does editorializing of this kind serve? Pointing out, twice, that it takes the local food bank $15,000 a month to cover operations, as if that is an exorbitant amount, made me choke. Whoever wrote this "article" would be well advised to do even a minimal amount of comparative research before writing such ridiculous comments.

A couple of phone calls to other food banks would quickly reveal that the problems the Tucson Community Food Bank is facing are by no means unique. The situation food programs face today is a direct result of recent federal policy, cutting back on other programs which poor people have relied on for basic sustenance.

When I left Tucson a few years ago to attend school, I was delighted by The Weekly. We need a newspaper that is not afraid to expose the news that our standard papers won't touch. I hope this editorial is not indicative of the quality of writing in your paper currently. There is a huge difference between thoughtful, well-researched exposure of real news, and the kind of hyped-up, baseless scandal-mongering I discovered in this editorial.

I began the article expecting to hear about the very real an extensive hunger problems that I hear people who administer food programs statewide speak of on a daily basis. I hear these program directors despondently talk about running out of food on their shelves, of cutting back, of not possibly being able to meet the need they have been faced with in recent months. When I hear them talk, I hear "crisis." But that is not the article I was met with.

I am very disappointed that your paper would stoop to printing that sort of sensationalist editorializing. I think it is socially irresponsible and counterproductive. Please turn your efforts towards fighting for good, and away from picking at people who are working as hard as they can to make things right in society.

--Catherine Land

Family Resource & Wellness Program Coordinator

Editor's note: Sure, kick the messenger all you want. The fact remains that the Food Bank can barely afford its gigantic new headquarters. As a result, barring a massive infusion of cash, the hungry are likely to pay even more dearly in the months ahead.

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