Published: Jan 08, 2013 07:00 PM
Modified: Jan 08, 2013 06:03 PM
As the new year begins, tis the season for resolutions to shed a few extra pounds around the waistline.
While there are weight-reduction strategies galore Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, South Beach, Mediterranean, Scarsdale, Hollywood, and yup, even the Bikini Detox Diet every dieter knows that some bring much better results than others.
Diets with lofty goals (Three easy steps for losing 50 pounds) may talk the talk but rarely walk the walk. Research consistently shows that the only diets that really work break down big goals into smaller digestible chunks. For example, rather than setting out to lose 50 pounds, it may be far better to start with one healthy breakfast for the week.
Known as Chunking Goals, the applications go well beyond calorie counting. The breaking down of big goals into smaller ones is commonly used in settings ranging from corporate board rooms to youth soccer fields. And here in Chapel Hill and Carrboro, it is very successfully being applied to the very opposite of dieting: local hunger relief.
The People Offering Relief for Chapel Hill-Carrboro Homes, or PORCH for short, know that they will never solve local hunger. They will not even ensure that the one in four low-income kids in our community go to bed each night with a full stomach. But one porch at a time, they are part of a caring community trying to provide sustenance to the very hungriest in our midst. Heres how.
PORCH serves as a bridge between neighborhoods with ample food to eat and those where the kitchens are too frequently bare. On a designated day each month, generous neighbors reach into their cupboards, grab a can or two of Campbells chicken noodle soup or Bushs baked beans, and plop the canned goods onto their front porch. The gift-giving is just that simple!
Then, another series of very specific and well-defined tasks begins. The canned goods are picked up by neighborhood coordinators, loaded into the back seats and trunks of their cars, transported to a local church for sorting, and delivered to seven nearby food pantries.
With the help of hundreds of community volunteers, the food moves from porch to church to pantry to kitchen table all within just a few hours time. The receiving of the gift is just that simple!Realistic tasks
The tasks are manageable and realistic.
Every dieter experiences temporary lapses in iron discipline. Its the human condition. Rather than spiraling off course, the challenge is to get back on track as quickly as possible. Similarly, PORCH totally understands when a doctors appointment, a childs school event, or a business trip gets in the way of leaving canned goods on the porch during the monthly collections. But during those months when porch donations can be tucked into busy schedules, the neighborhood coordinators are sure to be there. Thats because local hunger is sure to be there, too, and it takes a dedicated, community-wide effort to really put a dent into it.
The tasks are measureable. Taken individually, none of these small acts of porch philanthropy would matter that much. But together, nearly 3,000 neighbors in 150 neighborhoods are now contributing $20,000 to $ 30,000 in food and cash each month to relieve hunger in the Chapel Hill and Carrboro community. The monthly benchmarks are posted on the PORCH website and reported in a letter of gratitude to donors after every neighborhood food drive. Much like a dieter stepping on a scale for feedback, PORCH meticulously counts bags to monitor progress.
There is no sure bet for weight reduction just as there is no set protocol for local hunger relief. But in both situations, success is more likely to be replicated if the big goal can be broken down into small, well-defined, realistic, and measureable tasks. Thats exactly what community activists replicating the PORCH model are doing in other cities and towns as far away as Simi Valley, California and closer to home in Apex, Cary, Durham, Fearrington Village, Governors Club, Hickory, Hillsborough, Morrisville, Raleigh, and Western Wake. They are addressing local hunger one porch at a time while also catering the model to the unique characteristics of their individual communities.
Whether you are living in Chapel Hill, Carrboro, or any other city or town in North Carolina, consider adding local hunger relief to your list of New Years resolutions. One small can at a time, you can make a big difference! Christine Cotton, Debbie Horwitz and Susan Romaine are the founders of PORCH.
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