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Dynamic Chiropractic Canada – November 1, 2008, Vol. 01, Issue 02
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The No More Hunger Project

How to make a difference beyond the walls of your practice.

By Mark Studin, DC, FASBE(C), DAAPM, DAAMLP

While I was serving as executive director of the New York Chiropractic Council in the 1990s, our organization decided to make a difference in our state by feeding the hungry.

We raised 100,000 lbs. of food for the hungry in New York and got a tremendous amount of press for chiropractic in recognition for our efforts. Although we never goaled for the press, it was appreciated.

When I eventually retired from politics, I decided that I wanted to continue locally and created a "No More Hunger Project" in my county (Suffolk County, New York), raising 100,000 lbs. of food for the hungry at the local level. It was easy and fulfilled the spirit. I am now challenging every chiropractor to make a difference beyond the walls of their office and make social changes, as they have the power.

The first step is to identify who will be the recipient of the food and how to get it there. As in any business, infrastructure is the key to success and failure, and you need to create a system to make it work. The next step is figuring out how to manage the logistics once the food is collected. When I started the program, I chose a food pantry that helped families on "workfare" and opened their doors to anyone in need. These were people who worked, but still had to choose between feeding, clothing or sheltering their families.

These families were below the poverty level and had to make this decision because they could only afford two of the three necessities in life. Food was the variable, and more than 13,000 families used this pantry monthly to survive. Therefore, I choose Smithhaven Ministries in Coram, N.Y., as my food recipient, after I did a background check to ensure the validity and integrity of the organization.

Transportation was the next challenge. I approached Glen David of Davlen Associates, who builds office components for chiropractors, because they use trucks to deliver their products. They agreed to pick up the food locally and deliver it to the food pantry on my schedule. 

Now that I had my infrastructure in place, I could initiate the "No More Hunger Project." The program was designed for the children in our community to realize their power as individuals and as integral parts of the solution to a worldwide epidemic. It is about fixing the world, one community at a time, by locally effecting powerful changes.

Next, I placed a public service ad that was done at no charge by Newsday (one of the largest newspapers in the U.S.), targeting every school district in the county. I created a competition to see which school district could raise the most food per student and then offered a reward to the student government of the high school in the winning district.

Every school district has elementary schools that feed into middle schools and then into high schools. Eventually, every child in the district ends up in their respective high school. Therefore, everyone in the school district eventually benefits from winning by giving the prize to the student government in the high school.

I then went to a local college and enrolled an education fraternity to recruit volunteers. The volunteers would go to each high school and talk to the student government representatives. I spent one hour with the college students explaining the program so they could be my ambassadors of goodwill. College fraternities and sororities are required to participate in community services in order to maintain their charter. You are helping them by giving them a project in which to participate.

Once I had my army prepared, I went to my mayor, state assemblyman, state senator and any other local elected officials I could find, and got them to endorse the program in writing. With this information, I went to Newsday and  submitted a press release:

The "No More Hunger Project" is looking to recruit every school district in Suffolk County to raise food for the hungry. The food will be distributed locally and there will be a prize of $5,000 to the student government of the high school in the winning district. This program has been endorsed by New York State Senators Ken LaValle and Cesar Trunzo, and is coordinated by Dr. Mark Studin, a local chiropractor.

The newspaper carried the article, and my phone literally rang off the hook. I used my own funds the first year for the prize money, but you don't have to. Goto local merchants and organizations; get them to donate funds. During my second year, I went to every lawyer with whom I did business and got them to collectively donate the prize money. The prize doesn't have to be $5,000. It could be $1,000 or even less. Money is the not the goal; the goal is to raise the food. The money simply gets people's attention.

Once I got the school systems lined up (14 school districts participated), I created a schedule to keep the food pantry full the entire school year. Each month of the school year, a different district was responsible for raising food. Since there were nine months and 14 districts, I divided the districts into each month, allowing May and June to be multiple district months in order to overload the pantry and help during the summer. December was omitted because communities are usually very giving during the holidays and the pantry is full at that time.

My college fraternity members then spoke to each district's high-school student government.  The students were instructed to go to each junior high school and elementary school and make presentations to the PTAs and the students directly, to teach their district how to raise food. They were very creative, and each school created their own competition with the best posters, songs, programs and stories to raise hunger awareness. These were just a few of the programs the schools created to raise awareness to collect food. The student government gave awards to the winners in the form of certificates.

Since each school didn't have the same student population, we had to create fair criteria for the prize. The formula was that the most pounds per student would win the prize. Therefore, we suggested that the math club of the school be responsible for weighing the food, calculating the pounds per student and submitting to me a report for public record to determine the winner.  By doing this, you not only have a verifiable way of determining the victor, but also an independent accounting of how much food is raised.

Once the schedule was set, the student government representative was given the number of the trucking company, and it was the responsibility of each school district to have two to three pick-up sites for their month. The trucking company would pick up the food and deliver it to the food pantry for distribution. Simple!

At the end of each year, approximately 100,000 lbs. of food were collected - and families survived. This was all accomplished because children from kindergarten on up made it happen. A 7-year-old changed the world. Yes, they had help from older children and their parents, but it is a very simple solution if everyone works together.

This program should take very little of your time. Beyond a few phone calls and meeting with college students, there should be little for you to do outside your office other than calculate the collected food and determine the winner. Initially, you only need to get endorsements and raise the money, if you choose not to fund it yourself.

On a much lesser note, I unexpectedly received a lot of press in the local papers that brought attention to my practice. This was a good thing, yet certainly it was not the goal.

If you need help, contact me, as it my pleasure and passion to help you change the world. Should you take the step to make an even bigger difference in the world by participating in this program, I plan on tallying up the amount of food chiropractic raises for the hungry. Please send me a note on your participation and the approximate pounds collected. I am going to share this with news outlets to show them chiropractic makes a huge difference. I believe legislators and policy-makers need to know we make a difference inside and outside the walls of our office, and your name should be included on that list.

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