Friday, April 24, 2015

FOOD FOR ALL ERA 21: What Ever Happened to FOOD FOR ALL?

After the farewell party in February 1998, Linda and I decided it was time to step away from involvement in the new FICAH/FOOD FOR ALL organization, take some time to heal from a year of trying unsuccessfully to mesh our grassroots, participatory culture with the new parent organization’s top-down corporate mentality, and explore options for our next phase. It quickly became obvious to us that Michael did not welcome any advice from us, and that the “old” FICAH officers had no interest in continuing the volunteer structures we had spent years developing. We actually heard of a quote from one of them that they were viewing our merger as an acquisition. In other words, a “take-over.” They wanted our name, which they officially adopted for all their consumer programs four years later. After 9-11 the name “crusade” became problematic, although they had already been thinking about the name change.

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Michael Donkis was now in charge as CEO. Within a few months the FOOD FOR ALL office was moved from Redlands to a warehouse near the Ontario airport, more convenient for Michael’s commuting from his Melrose Avenue apartment and his flights to the FICAH office in Washington, DC. I have to give Michael some credit. He tried to honor his firm promise that FOOD FOR ALL’s year-round program would continue and hopefully be adopted by more retailers. For the next couple of years it did actually expand on the east coast, largely due to the FOOD FOR ALL staff members Michael kept on to handle the installation and merchandising tasks. But he simply was not able to manage the volunteer grant boards, the store ambassadors, the ongoing education and training involved in sustaining the organization as before the merger. That was neither his expertise nor his interest. I must add that had Linda and I stayed and I worked on my own ego issues as “ex-CEO,” the new organization was in for a rocky few years in any case.

Within four years some decisions of Michael’s would put the organization’s capacity to honor international grants at risk. He spent about a quarter of a million dollars on a consulting firm to develop a new financial system for tracking the donations coming from retailers and the grants going out to local agencies, only to abandon the project after two years and return to the system Jenny Foster’s husband, Ev, had set up in our first two years. This resulted in the organization’s board having to delay the allocation of international grants for about a year. I suspect this may have been part of the reason that Michael left about three years after we did. Shortly after this FICAH hired an ex-food industry lobbyist and marketing person, Denis Zegar, as CEO, closed the Ontario office, and let the staff go, except for one former food industry marketing person working out of his home. This left the organization with a total of four staff.

The good news is the FOOD FOR ALL program was still appealing to the food industry due to downsizing the organization and the dedication of the volunteer board of directors who hung in there through some rough years. John Benner, formerly chairman of FOOD FOR ALL, as treasurer until 2002, helped get the organization back on track. The other good news is that the retail supermarket operators now became the “deciders” of where the grant funds would go, replacing the small army of local grant boards we had recruited and trained. I say good news because even today we hear about these funds going to many of the local projects we funded early on. FICAH continued to raise money from the food industry to support the international self-help projects; and FOOD FOR ALL grants from the 10,000 supermarkets eventually carrying the year-round and holiday programs continued to support the local anti-hunger agencies.

In 2002 I requested an annual report, after hearing virtually nothing from the organization for four years. I received a cordial letter from Tom Moran, Manager of Administrative Services of Food for All: Self-Help Solutions to End Hunger. It was accompanied by an annual report, the first I had seen since we left. I was pleased to see that many of the retail supermarket chains we had approached were now listed as FOOD FOR ALL participants. I was also glad that FOOD FOR ALL was now in 41 states and the District of Columbia, that $2 million annually was now being provided in grants, and that $35 million had been invested in self-help anti-hunger projects in the United Stated and worldwide.

My next inquiry into where FOOD FOR ALL had gone since 1998 was in March of 2015, as I was preparing to write this blog entry. Imagine my surprise! FOOD FOR ALL has been renamed ‘Making Change.’ Dennis Zegar, then CEO of FOOD FOR ALL, in 2012, recommended it to the board, after determining that FOOD FOR ALL had grown beyond addressing hunger, and obtained the pro bono services of a global advertising firm, which came up with the new name. Mr. Zegar stated it this way: “We think this new brand identity will enable us to basically explore any program without being tied to food.” The board officially made the change in February 2013.

Denis Zegar died as a result of a bicycle racing accident in August 2014. The chairman of the newly named organization stated: “We are working to establish a protocol for the organization moving forward. In the meantime there will be no interruption in the programs we offer to our retail partners.”

After learning about the new name and Mr. Zegar’s death, I researched the history of FICAH/FOOD FOR ALL as it is found in about 45 pages of articles in Supermarket News, the primary news publication of the supermarket industry, stretching from August of 1997 to August of 2014. I found myself being proud of what we began back in 1985. I could actually see the vision we had of getting the entire food industry behind the hunger issue had come to fruition, at least in part. It had to come about the way it did, with the industry in charge. But the original mission of supporting self-help solutions and getting at root causes of hunger remained in the hearts and minds of at least some of the industry leaders.

By the year 2000, fifteen years from the founding of both FICAH and FOOD FOR ALL, almost all of the $3.5 million was coming from customer donations at check stands. The organization was struggling to get food industry corporations to support its efforts. Our old friend/enemy “mergers and acquisitions” within the industry was still a major factor. The next year, after 9-11, there was a bit of a resurgence of industry support. And by the end of 2004 six thousand supermarkets were participating in either the year-round or seasonal FOOD FOR ALL programs.


      The Holiday Program                    The Year-Round Program

In a special October 2004 edition of Supermarket News, ‘FOOD FOR ALL AT 20,’ Jack Brown of Stater Bros. was interviewed for one of the feature stories. He actually included the story he loved to tell about encountering us in our beat-up old Honda Accord, which convinced him to support FOOD FOR ALL, back in 1990. Again my facts and his story of being the first major chain to participate don’t quite jibe. Also his version of how we came to obtain the UPC bar codes (his was: he got them for us; mine: Bill Christy our board member). At any rate Jack was quoted as saying he was “proud of the Hamiltons and of the late Paul Gerrard who had the courage to start it in his store.” I am reasonably certain none of the readers of his article, including Jack, will be reading my story.

Those of us who founded the original FOOD FOR ALL organization and program were variously described in this issue of Supermarket News. We were “community activists,” “dreamers,” “visionaries.” My favorite, I guess, is “a group of visionaries who believed the food industry could make a difference in the lives of people throughout the world.” (My only amendment would be that we believed that every day shoppers could make a difference by making a small donation every time they shopped).

Bob Emmons, who was the first chairman of the combined FICAH/FOOD FOR ALL organization in 1997, came close when he was quoted in this issue:

Though both groups were formed in 1985, and both sought to support charities that championed self-sufficiency for the less fortunate, FICAH and Food For All prior to their merger had some significant differences. The former was funded primarily through corporate contributions of founding grocery distributor companies and directed its donations largely overseas; the latter raised the majority of its money from consumer contributions at retail stores in support of local charities.

Paul Gerrard died in May of 2004. I attended his memorial at First Baptist in Redlands and spoke briefly of our friendship and his support. Jack and Debbie Brown were there as well as a number of California supermarket operators.

A Supermarket News article in November 2007 noted that, according to CEO Denis Zegar, FOOD FOR ALL revenues had reached more than $5 million the previous fiscal year. The number of retail participating stores now numbered 8,000. Fifty-three million dollars had been raised for anti-hunger programs since 1985. A January 2013 article, published just before the name change to ‘Making Change,’ reported that the total raised since the founding of FOOD FOR ALL was $73 million. And there were now 10,000 participating retail outlets.

So for nearly thirty years, through earthquakes, riots, tsunamis, terrorist attacks, wars, and drastic economic downturns, FOOD FOR ALL has continued to grow and hold at least some of its original vision of addressing the causes as well as the effects of hunger. It even managed to weather the many food industry mergers and consolidations over the years. The unfortunate bi-product of the point-of-purchase program being controlled by the retailers themselves was that the international grants have dwindled to less than $100,000 in total grants each year. And it will have to be seen whether the name change to ‘Making Change’ will carry the organization for another three decades. The latest literature from the organization indicates that it has over the past few years been turned into a marketing program for retailers and suppliers and therefore lost much of its original power.

In 1985 an organization was founded because of an idea of a supermarket shopper, who happened to be married to me. In 1986 a supermarket operator took a chance because he looked at her idea and said: “This could end hunger.” In 1987 a marketing VP of a supermarket chain said: “We’ll be happy to participate in your pilot project.” In 1988 another VP of a supermarket chain on the east coast said: “I’ve been waiting for you to call.” In 1989 a VP of a small northern California chain said: “We’ll install your program in our stores.” I don’t remember much after that. So you can rely on all the previous episodes I have written as true or the rantings of a deluded visionary.

FFA Office MH (2)  

The next and last chapter of my story will be an attempt to articulate the real legacy of FOOD FOR ALL.

Friday, April 17, 2015

FOOD FOR ALL ERA 20: Celebrate!

Back from India and invited to a party—for us! Our FOOD FOR ALL board and staff planned a celebration to give Linda and me a proper send-off. We showed up at the Pomona Valley Mining Company restaurant where we had held a few of our annual meetings over the past decade. We were surprised and delighted that people representing our entire history with FOOD FOR ALL were there for a dinner and time to remember and honor what was accomplished. People who had supported us from the very beginning: Paul and Dorothy Gerrard, our original grocer; board members John and Linda Benner, Lynda Trelut who flew down from Gilroy, Georgianna McBurney, Helen Anderson, Bill Christy. FOOD FOR ALL and VISTA volunteers, former staff members like Sing Baker who drove up from San Diego to join us.

FFA Farewell Dinner

FFA People 2

Paul and Dorothy Gerrard, First FOOD FOR ALL grocer


L-R top; L-R bottom: Georgianna, Bill, Helen, Lynda, John

Michael Donkis, our new CEO, was not there, nor were any of our newly acquired FICAH board members. We did not expect them to be. This was obviously a party to bring a proper ending to what FOOD FOR ALL was and not so much a looking forward to what it was to become. It was entirely appropriate and just fine with us. We had always been an organization that celebrated, both the victories and the set-backs. So we enjoyed the chance to say farewell and listen to all the nice things people had to say about us and say, Thank you!”


It was most heartwarming to receive this massive twelve-and-a-half pound album of letters (I weighed it) from the hundreds of nonprofit organizations across the country and world, and people who could not be present for the send-off party, but who wrote letters of appreciation.

FFA Reflection 4

A wall representing the history of FOOD FOR ALL was put up and our board officers, Georgianna McBurney, Lynda Trelut, Helen Anderson, and John Benner led the whole gathering to reflect together on the achievements of the past decade plus. We built FOOD FOR ALL as a “learning organization” so it was important to be sure people had the chance to say what important lessons could be passed on to those who would carry the banner into the future.



Linda and I left the party without a clue where life would take us next. But we left without any regrets, very few “if onlys and what ifs,” and lots of wonder-filled memories. There are of course memories of the successes, and the more painful ones of the failures. But those that are really important to us are of the “people of FOOD FOR ALL.”

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Staff celebrations at the office and Sue Hammond’s home

Our staff, many of whom would carry on for several years after our tenure, especially Jenny Foster, our original office manager, and our dedicated merchandising people, Alma Vierich, Tom Whalen, and Frank Knutson. Michael even re-hired Neill Richards after he had ordered me to let him go, when he discovered that he could not handle the east coast without Neill’s help.


Clockwise: Lance Ternasky, Scott Christiansen, Sing Baker, Jenny Foster & Diane Adams, Theresa Lingafelter 


Clockwise:  Ed Drummond, Neill Richards, Leslie Temanson, Linda Hamilton; Alma Vierich; Alma & Frank Knutson; Lisa Dewey; Staff Retreat; Neill Richards & Tom Whalen;

FOOD FOR ALL FAREWELL Vista VolunteersOur Americorps VISTA Volunteer Staff

Of course, our board members, directors and advisory boards, who guided us with wise counsel and hundreds of hours of service through the years.

FFA Board at Farewell

FOOD FOR ALL Board Members Attending the Send-Off Party


Funds Distribution Advisory Board Members, including back left Darryl Brock and Mike Hayes (FFA Board Members), Gianna Hochstein, Neill Richards, Aaron Zerah, Jeanine Faria, Georgianna McBurney (FFA Board Member)

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John Oyler of ICA gave many hours on our Funds Distribution Board and facilitated our strategic plan for expansion



Two of our founding board members could not be there: Rich Blakley, who got his church behind us early on; and Milo Lacy, retired supermarket manager who always told us the grocers would never adopt our idea.


Rich Blakley at FOOD FOR ALL Opening & Milo Lacy at Trade Show

John Benner will continue on as treasurer of the newly merged organization. Helen Anderson would remain on the board for another three years.


The Store Ambassadors, local FOOD FOR ALL Councils, local grant boards, and promotional supporters who kept our message in front of shoppers.

FOOD FOR ALL Volunteers2

But most of all, the hundreds of people running creative nonprofits in local communities across the country: food banks and pantries, homeless shelters, community gardens, community supported agriculture programs; and the international NGO agencies working in the most impoverished villages to help local people find their own solutions.



FOOD FOR ALL Gtrants 3

In the last year of our leadership of FOOD FOR ALL we changed the name of the newsletter to Catalyst because we saw the purpose and effect of our grant-making to be catalyzing innovative solutions to the issue of hunger. We left the organization in the hands of those we hoped had caught some of the vision we had of a grassroots and comprehensive approach to this important cause.

History will have to be the judge of how well we had done our work.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

FOOD FOR ALL ERA 19: We Don’t Need No Gold Watch!

India Map 2

“If you go to India your life will never be the same.” Our colleagues in the Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA) who were assigned there always repeated the same mantra. Linda and I did not have the opportunity for an overseas assignment while on the ICA staff. Our good fortune. Just at the time of our departure from FOOD FOR ALL, our friends Roger and Maxine Butcher were organizing a “self-tour” to be led by an Indian ICA colleague, Shakuntala Jadhav, who lived in Puna. We signed on right away. A group of ten of us spent two weeks, over Christmas and New Year, 1997-8, traveling in the state of Maharashtra, and ending up in New Delhi. The Butchers had worked in India with the ICA for several years. Our longtime FOOD FOR ALL volunteer and now Board member, Helen Anderson and her husband Gordon, joined our group, along with another ICA colleague, Sara Munshin. Roger’s 80 year young mother made the trip as well, along with other assorted friends and relatives, all recruited by the Butchers.

Shakuntala met us at the Mumbai airport a little before midnight. Our first encounter with India was seeing security guards with military rifles slung across their shoulders, standing around chatting and smoking in the nearly deserted Mumbai airport terminal. Our next sight, was more pleasant. Shakuntala showed up with an aging but reliable fifteen passenger bus with a driver and “spotter.” We were to learn how important the role of spotter is over the next two weeks. The Butchers told us they had put our group in the hands of this young, attractive, powerhouse of a woman in a sari; and we could rest easy that all would be well-organized. We had made her acquaintance two years earlier when she came to the US and stayed with us for a night while on a fundraising trip. FOOD FOR ALL was a supporter of a village project she and her husband Shankar headed up, as well as a new environmental training center that was well under construction. We were to visit both in the next few days.

We drove at night to get to our hotel through the “suburbs” of Mumbai, barely making out the vastness of the slum neighborhoods, with occasional single electric lights visible among the many cooking fires. We could see figures of what we realized were families gathered for a “midnight snack,” possibly the only meal of the day after and before a day of scratching out a living. The experience was surreal. Out of the darkness came suddenly a brightly lit open truck with music blaring and a crowd of people following and singing. It was a wedding celebration.

After an hour of driving on a two-lane highway, with the smells of gasoline fumes mixed with charcoal, various scents of foods cooking, garbage rotting alongside the road, occasional animal waste and open sewage, we arrived at our first night’s lodging in the little town of Punvel, and were warmly welcomed by two staff of the Punvel Palace, one of our many “minus one-star” hotels. We had not yet seen Slum Dog Millionaire or Best Exotic Marigold Hotel so had nothing to compare. The rooms were clean and we were exhausted. So we slept. We woke with the residents of Punvel already at work with the sunrise. Our hotel room overlooked a small lumber yard. The view of workmen, trucks being loaded, and cows meandering was strange but seemed to totally fit the scene.

Punvel Stay

Taking a shower in India is an interesting experience. The bathroom does not contain a shower. The bathroom is the shower. And if the hotel staff are on the ball and stoke the boiler, you might get hot water. To our surprise, the hotel staff had breakfast prepared for us. Our expectations were not exceeded. An over-cooked egg and toast and some kind of fruit. And a bottle of water or a sugary orange drink. But we were hungry so we ate.

Shakuntala was ready for us. The plan was to spend the first week visiting ICA projects in the State of Maharashtra, and the second week as tourists. We thanked the Punvel Palace staff, boarded our little bus, and drove back to Mumbai so we could see what we had only sensed on the trip from the airport. We had a view of slum neighborhoods as far as we could see. Mumbai is a vast sea of people, animals, trucks (called Goods Carriers), three-wheeled motorized vehicles used for taxis, and for transporting anything and everything, all constantly moving. Everyone in India seems to be on the way somewhere. The only time we saw people who might be taking a break from their incessant activity was late at night around the cooking pots.

Punvel to Mumbai Day

On the way back to our hotel we stopped at a nearby project in the little town of Chikhale which was run by women making clothing, then saw our first village school, one room with bare walls and children sitting on a dirt floor, after which we visited a family of an ICA staffer. Monu’s son had been in a motorcycle accident, and the Butchers had collected a sum of money to help the family during his recovery at home.

Mumbai Day

After a second night at the Punvel Palace we were on the road to Puna, the second largest city in Maharashtra where the Jadhavs lived. They managed several of the ICA projects with a small staff in some nearby villages. We were treated to a real “home-cooked” Indian dinner on Christmas day at their home, prepared and served by Shakuntala and some women friends. Since Puna is a large city, our hotel accommodations were a bit more comfortable.

The next day we were on our way to the Environmental Training Center in a town called Malegaon. The Center was nearly complete and served many of the surrounding villages as a resource for developing best practices in conservation and farming. Our next overnight was in the town of Telegaon. We were on the way to a village where we visited a residential school the ICA had started, another that the ICA helped drill a new village well, and finally one of the poorest villages where we were met by the village band (with instruments made from various sizes of metal drums), marched the two blocks to the town center, and marked on the forehead by the village women.

Pune Day One

We sat and learned of how proud they were of the partnership they had with ICA and how they discovered the power and importance of the women of their village (in India rural society, the women do most of the hard work and the men make all the decisions). We were even invited into one of the homes for afternoon tea.

Pune Day One 2

Warm memories of these few days abound. While walking on the foot path through a field to get to a village, we met a wedding procession of poor farmers who were transporting the bride to the wedding on a two-wheel bike. The family was over-joyed at our congratulations and I am sure saw this as a good omen for the marriage. On another walk through the fields, which was the only way, other than motorcycle, to get to some villages, Roger and I offered to help a couple of farmers who were threshing grain and talked another farmer into giving us a ride in his ox cart (I confess, both were mainly for photo ops).

Pune Day Two

In one village we were invited into a home, typical of most in rural India. There was no furniture, a dirt floor, well-swept. There was only one bare light bulb in the kitchen. Grandpa sleeping on a straw mat on the floor in one corner. Three women sitting and grinding corn. The family cow looking over a counter from her pen in one end of the house. In the kitchen no table or chairs, four stainless steel cups and plates on a shelf and one cooking pot on an open fire pit.

Toward the end of our first week we made a long bus drive on a public bus to the city of Aurangabad, which was near the ICA’s very first Indian village project, Maliwada. The picture you have in your minds about Indian public transportation might be accurate, but you really have to experience it. I mentioned earlier that every bus has a driver and a spotter. The driver drives and operates the horn, which is more essential than the brake. The spotter sticks his head out the window and signals the driver when he assesses that it’s safe to pass. Indian highways are unique in the world. There are people walking along the roadsides, carts pulled by camels or oxen or men, motorized scooters, taxis, bicycles. There are the many trucks, buses, a few private cars, pickups, and cows. I lost all fear in the two weeks I spent in India.

Now for the scene on the bus. People in various states of cleanliness get on and off at every bus stop. There are no smoking prohibitions on Indian buses and the sweet smell of Indian tobacco and whatever else some guys were smoking was slightly sickening, but the windows were always open so no one actually got sick on our tour. There were people carrying all sorts of things, and the body smells sitting close to fifty people added to the experience. The bathroom breaks were another scene worth telling. The driver would pull over to the side of the road by a field of grain or mustard and say “men left, women right,” while pointing. And I can testify that this was preferable to some of the public toilets in towns along the way. An eight hour bus ride I will never forget.

The overnight in Aurangabad would have been very comfortable. The hotel rooms and beds were adequate for our needs for rest. We noticed that there was no hot water for showers and mentioned this to the hotel staff. We should have kept quiet. The boiler to heat the water was outside the hotel below our room. When the fire was lit, the smoke filled the hotel and it took several hours of burning eyes to recover enough to think of taking a shower. But the water was hot.

Culprit boiler (2)

The day following was worth it. The Ellora Caves are near Aurangabad and are a historic site of both Hindu and Buddhist temples, carved right out of the mountain. We were not prepared for the barrage of monkeys that hung around the caves; and we were surprised at how little protection the Indian government provided for its historic treasures.

Ellora Caves Visit

The real treat of the day was the visit to the village of Maliwada. Shakuntala and her husband Shankar had been early ICA staff in this village in the 1970s. The villagers remembered her and gathered around with exuberance. We toured the village. It didn’t take that long. The one indelible image that remains with me is the dozens of children crowding around us, following us shouting and waving for attention the whole time. The mural of the mountain and the Dalatabad Fort you could see from the village was still visible on the community center building. This took me back to my ICA staff days. I always wanted to go to Maliwada. Now I was there.

Maliwada Day

After Maliwada we were ready to be tourists. Shakuntala got us back on the public bus for the trip back to Pune, another eight hour experience of Indian in-country travel, driver laying on horn, spotter calculating the inches for safe passing, wonderful mass of humanity packed together into a microcosm of spaceship earth. I must confess I loved it. On one occasion when Shakuntala and I got separated from the group for an hour or so, she pitched me for how cheap it would be for Linda and me to live on our retirement income in India. For a moment that sounded really good. This woman was very convincing. Her husband had said to us once: “She is a very powerful woman.” (Shakuntala died in 2003 of cancer).

Shakuntula Red Fort

We were now prepared for the tourist experience. The flight to Jaipur on Air India was a total surprise. We had just taken off for an hour flight when we were served a delicious, full meal. We had hardly time to enjoy it when the landing lights came on. The stay in Jaipur encompassed a visit to the “Pink Palace” of some emperor, a ride on an elephant, and our taxi driver stopping a local camel driver to allow those of us who wanted to ride his camel for a photo.

Our accommodations were fine, except we had to keep our hotel room window closed to keep the monkeys from entering during the night. Getting up early in the morning gave us the experience of seeing the city of Jaipur waking up. Monkeys heading for the roofs, cows meandering through the street to be fed by merchants. Street sweepers beginning to clean the piles of trash.

Jaipur Day

Next to experience was the Indian train ride to Agra, home of the Taj Mahal. Again, we were surprised at the modern comforts. I believe the fact that Shakuntala had arranged for us to have assigned seating had something to do with our comfort level. They actually served us a meal on the train. Hotel accommodations in Agra were a slight improvement. The early morning visit to the Taj Mahal was an inspiring experience. We got to see the sun rising over the Taj, from the island across the river to the back, due to an encounter with a “tour guide” and his boatman who wanted to take us across the river to a sandbar, promising a unique experience. So Linda, Helen Anderson and I took him up on it. It was a spectacular view. We later discovered that it was the only day in about three months that the cloud cover allowed for viewing the sunrise. Dickering on the price of the tour was fun (200 rupees? No, he meant 200 rupees each—so $10 for the three of us) and made us feel like cheapskates.

Taj Mahal Day

A train trip the next day landed us in New Delhi, and preparations for our trip home. Visits to the Red Fort in Old Delhi, an ancient mosque, a sound-and-light show, the Mahatma Gandhi museum, Indira Gandhi’s home, and changing hotels because Shakuntala happened to see a rat running along the hotel balcony rounded out our two week immersion in India.

Delhi Days

Someone in our group, while wandering the neighborhood of the hotel, discovered a “pancake house” and a “21 flavors ice cream store” in the same building. We made several trips there over the three days stay.

Return Home

We returned home on January 5th, 1998, exhausted but totally grateful for the India experience. India is truly a life-changing event. The contrasts of our first week of seeing the extreme poverty that is much of rural and urban Indian life, and the modern comforts of the second week’s tour were stark. It’s just that India is too much of everything. A feast of sight and sound. Too much poverty and suffering. Too many people. Too much complexity. And yet somehow it seems to work.

So what has this to do with the FOOD FOR ALL story? Linda and I had turned in our resignations. We had not yet had time to reflect on our FOOD FOR ALL journey. But as we began to piece together the fabric of our life through the past couple of decades, what was becoming clear was that we had participated in a grand experiment of what it means to be of service. If we had ever thought that we were going to change the world or save it, such thinking evaporated in India. And yet we saw with our own eyes change occurring. We heard with our own ears from people in villages stories of hope and pride in their accomplishments. We felt privileged to be even a small part of it all. We realized that it had never been about us and what we could accomplish. We were riding on waves of change that took us along with them. We were facilitators. We were the invisible presence that saw to it that when an individual, a town, a village, a group of any sort, experienced a success in any endeavor that we were a part of, they would look at the accomplishment and be able to say: “We did it ourselves.”

The few million dollars in grants that had passed from supermarket check stands through FOOD FOR ALL’s grants to self-help projects such as the ICA’s village development projects were just part of the human community’s struggle to say to itself: “Life is good! The future is open!”

It is good to be a part of something like that. Who could ask for anything more?

In the words of a poem by D.H. Lawrence:

Not I, not I, but the wind that blows through me!

A fine wind is blowing the new direction of Time.

If only I let it bear me, carry me, if only it carry me!

If only I am sensitive, subtle, oh, delicate, a winged gift!

If only, most lovely of all, I yield myself and am borrowed

By the fine, fine wind that takes its course through the chaos

of the world

Like a fine, an exquisite chisel, a wedge-blade inserted;

If only I am keen and hard like the sheer tip of a wedge

Driven by invisible blows,

The rock will split, we shall come at the wonder, we shall

find the Hesperides.