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  • Writer's pictureEpic-Cure,Inc.

The Almost Monthly Epic-Cure Newsletter November 2023



Awareness:

An easy, impactful way that you can help us is to please …


Save And Drop Off Your Grocery Store Plastic Bags.


You will help reduce waste by allowing us to re-use them. You will save us money by reducing the number we have to purchase.


Operations


Something sweet before we turn serious...


At the end of September, Davey Hartzel from the 904 Now asked if we could use flowers after events. A friend of his owns Tula Rose Floral & Event Design and wanted to find a better way to use them than to just throw them away. We’ve been giving small bundles to families attending our distributions. This is an email we received from one of our Palatka volunteers, Kay Ackland, about them...


Oh my, you cannot imagine how the flowers were received today. Please let the donors know, the love they spread.


1- one shopper got her allotment. She said she was getting for her friend, who wasn't feeling well. Then she went about 5 people back in line and gave to a lady. The lady was very happy. She didn't take her allotment, because her friend had thought of her.


2- A lady, came up, she already seemed distressed. I told her about the flowers, she broke down. Her best friend just passed away, she was going to take to her grave. I had to give her a hug and I was crying. She said, she almost didn't come today, because she was so upset. Bless her heart. So glad we had those flowers.


3- Most said, I am going to give to ....


And something special ...


As part of our Gift Gardens initiative, we are excited to partner with EPIC-CURE to raise awareness around food waste and build sustainable solutions to address food insecurity. All that we grow, we gift to others. Read the press release for details: www.compassionstaugustine.org/press-release.





School Food Waste


About a month ago, an employee of a Flagler County school reached out to us, appalled by the amount of food wasted every day at school meals (estimated at 30% or more). One of our volunteers who works at a St. Johns County school confirmed that figure. We have been teaching cooking classes at the Boys and Girls Club for over 2 years and have witnessed the same level of food waste in their after-school meal program. Since our mission is to take urgent, immediate, and continuous action to end food waste, this problem has piqued our interest.


On September 16, 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) jointly announced the U.S. 2030 Food Loss and Waste Reduction goal, the first-ever domestic goal to reduce food loss and waste, seeking to cut food loss and waste in half by the year 2030.


Let’s look at what food waste looks like in the K-12 Education Sector. These estimates were close. According to the USDA, 1.2 billion pounds of school meals were wasted, and that is about 25% of the estimated 4.9 billion pounds of school meals served in 2021, nationwide.






Because the USDA knew this was an area that could use improvement, they created all kinds of tools for schools to use to conduct school food waste audits and use it as an opportunity for education and advocacy.


In the case of St. Johns County, we can also use this as an opportunity to improve nutrition. What we observed at the Boys and Girls Club is that the federally reimbursable meals they were serving were highly processed and very unappetizing. In speaking with other school employees, they reported the same.



Single Serve Lucky Charms: 110 Calories … Carbohydrates 8% … Fat 2% … Sugar 18%

Chocolate Milk: 150 Calories … Carbohydrates 8% … Fat 8% … Sugar 22-24%

Sodium … 9%


BBQ Chicken Wraps, Hamburgers with Fries and Ice Cream, and Grilled Cheese



1 oz Bag of Doritos 150 Calories ... Carbohydrates … 6% ... Fat … 10% ... Sodium … 9%




With these 3 items (Single Serve Lucky Charms, Chocolate Milk, and Doritos), we are up to:

410 Calories ... Carbohydrate - 22% ... Fat - 20% ... Sodium - 18% ... Sugar - 40-44%


“USDA Goes Aeer Chocolate Milk in Schools in Fight Against Sugar”


There are many ways to offer school lunch and breakfast trays. Though school meals must meet federal meal pattern requirements, local school districts choose what food goes on the menu. School lunch and breakfast menus may look different based upon local and regional food preferences, what foods are produced locally, and what items might be in season.


The USDA provides many resources to help schools end waste and improve nutrition. And, they have grants that support nutrition education, meal recipe development, school nutrition readiness and retention, etc.



We sent this information to the Director and Assistant Director of Foodservice for St. Johns County

Schools and offered our assistance in conducting food waste audits and meal plan development that will work within the USDA Commodity and Federal Reimbursable Meal Program budget.


This problem can be fixed. The health of our children and of the environment will benefit from our efforts.


There are school districts that are executing on the promise. See the menus on the following page for the reality of more healthy possibilities.


These are examples of deliberately more healthful school meals.



Rejected/Donated Pallet App


We have been working diligently this year to understand the extent of the problem of truckloads of food that are rejected by the intended recipients. Every trucker, trucking company, and logistics company with which we have spoken identifies it as an area of significant food waste.


We have experienced donations of rejected shipments of food for these reasons:

  • Product volume is too great and too close to the expiration date to sell.

  • There are some damaged cases on pallets.

  • The wrong product was put on a truck.

  • Trucks that missed receiving hours.


We have heard about, but not directly experienced, these situations:

  • Trucks that are over their weight limits must dump products before reaching weigh stations.

  • Rest requirements causing drivers to miss deliveries.


What can be done? We have an idea and are seeking funding for a prototype. Please read on.


Hypothesis: By creating and implementing nationally an Uber-like mobile application that enables

truckers and warehouse managers to quickly contact food banks and well-structured and equipped food pantries to collect rejected food pallets, food that would otherwise have been wasted can be redirected to aid the food insecure, improve the environment, and increase the efficiency and profitability of logistics companies handling these rejected pallets of food.


Overview: Epic-Cure. wishes to fund the development of a mobile application (the "app") that will connect trucking, logistics, and cold storage companies in the very moment that they experience rejected pallets of food and household goods (hygiene products, cleaning supplies, etc.) to food banks and very well equipped food pantries that can immediately collect, store, and distribute these items to their beneficiaries, including food insecure families and food pantries that serve food insecure families. We envision an "Uber-like" app that would reside on the mobile smart phones, tablets, and laptop computers of truck drivers and warehouse managers. This app would be beta tested in Florida (Epic-Cure's. home) and then rolled out nationwide. Epic-Cure. has the network and, with our partner, the MEANS Database (see below), has the basic technology infrastructure to implement it.


Benefits: With the app, drivers and warehouse personnel would return more quickly to new, productive, and profitable work. Food banks would serve more food insecure people, improving health, economic, and social outcomes for them. The environment would benefit from the reduction of harmful greenhouse gases (especially methane gas) due to the reduction of food in landfills. The source companies of the food donated in this way may be eligible for enhanced tax credits, improving their profitability. Additionally, the friction costs associated with the "tax" represented by rejected pallets, a friction cost measured in time and money, would decline and turnover (newly processed food and goods deliveries) would increase.


Key Performance Indicators: Measurement of the key performance indicators will include: the number of instances of rejected pallets processed by the sources and recipients, the number of rejected pallets processed, the weight of the food and household goods so handled, the nature of the items (produce, dairy, meat and fish, dry goods, drinks, household goods, etc.) by weight, where the instances of rejected pallets occur (to seek information about possible geographic concentrations that imply trouble spots with relatively high instances of rejected pallet outcomes), and the wholesale value of the food and household goods so processed. The app would reconcile bills of lading data against data reported by the recipients. It would also permit recording and saving to the cloud the additional information described above. These data will be compiled daily and tracked for trends, geographic analysis, and community impact. Finally, algorithms will be developed to use tracked information to possibly make predictive assessments of future needs.


Epic-Cure. surveyed large food banks in Florida. Results follow.

Survey responses:



This is the map of the food banks that responded:


There is a web based system that provides a solid foundation on which to build this app:


MEANS (Matching Excess and Needs for Stability) Database is an online platform connecting those with excess food, like grocery stores, co-ops, and restaurants, with nearby emergency food providers who serve those in need. MEANS has two major goals: to reduce food waste and reroute that food to feed people facing food insecurity. MEANS has been working in the anti-hunger space for six years and has adapted to meet the needs of clients and those in need remotely during this unprecedented time.


To provide a prototype - a Minimum Viable Product (“MVP”) - as highlighted in yellow below, the cost is $2,000. Once we complete that, we can start making connections with third party logistics providers while we work on the MVP 2 described below. The tech members of our team have one estimate of approximately $41,000 for the second phase of this Uber-like app’s development. The team is collecting more estimates.


MVP (Minimum Viable Product) Scope


  • 3PL drivers can post bulk donations available in real time on their mobile phone on app.meansdatabase.org. (Partially supported, on address associated by user)

    • Adding current address by donation, instead of by user

    • Req. either a new user type or a new donation type

  • 3PL drivers can filter non-profit recipients by distance.

  • 3PL drivers can post a time limit associated with the bulk donation post.

  • MEANS app can send out notification of donation available to non-profit recipients based on the filters 3PL drivers selected.

  • MEANS app can show a record of notifications sent.

  • Non-profit recipients can claim the bulk donation posted by the 3PL driver on the MEANS app.

  • MEANS app can send notification (email or text) of the donation claimed to the 3PL driver including delivery destination address shown in the MEANS app.

  • MEANS staff can send an email to non-profit recipients to fill out product tracking form within 24hrs.

  • Non-profit recipients can confirm donations delivered within 24hr, using the product tracking form.

    • Not in scope: immediate confirmation within the MEANS app.

  • Non-profit recipients can complete a product tracking form, which is stored in MEANS G-drive.

  • MEANS staff reviews and confirms product tracking form completion and accuracy.

  • MEANS staff generates donation receipts for donors(3PL) and recipients offline.

    • Not in scope: generation within MEANS app on the organization page

  • MEANS staff can do all the actions above as the 3PL driver and non-profit recipients on the MEANS app.

  • MEANS staff can be copied on slack notifications by the MEANS app to the assigned donation or 3PL.

    • Not in scope: copied on email correspondence b/w Broker & 3PL.


MVP 2

  • Separate mobile app creation for this process – Yes.

  • Automatic detection for device location for donation address – Yes.

  • User identification verification. - Yes, depending on recurring API cost.

  • Requirement for photo uploads on the Post Donation form – Yes.

  • ETA for recipient on delivery. - Yes, depending on recurring API costs.

  • Delivery confirmation (separate from PTF) on MEANS app – Yes.

  • Generating donation receipts automatic on the MEANS app – Yes.


For those food banks with only forklifts, they will need to obtain a mobile forklift ramp to be part of the solution. It takes too long to manually turn pallets to move them with power pallet jacks. We'll be looking for grant funding for that equipment as well.


If you know of any funders or grants for this program, we would love to make those connections.


Here is our PIPS (Pounds In & People Served) Graph


Notes on the graph:

FEMA:

December 605,728

January 302,390

February 21,000

March 36,190


Pounds In: Left scale

People Served: Right scale


We have more truck and storage capacity and are always looking to make connections to new sources.


Volunteer Spotlight

Glenda Ricketts and Michelle Cannon


“All in the Family”, that’s the way it is with sisters Glenda and Michelle. These delightful hard working gals volunteer in the Palatka warehouse typically every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday! When asked what jobs they do, they said “Well, whatever has to be done!” They see an opportunity and they dive in. Sunny says she always feels completely comfortable leaving everything in their capable hands. These women told me that they know Sunny deals with drama and crisis so often that it is their goal to remove as much of it from her as they can. They take care of it instead of passing it on to Sunny.


Growing up in Old Town, a small town about 25 miles from the Suwannee River, they eventually moved closer to Palatka. Glenda and her husband live in Keystone. Michelle and her spouse live in Interlachen.


Glenda worked in the school system as an aide in the pre-K classroom for nine years. She is a homemaker who loves to cook, sew, and garden. By cooking, she’s talking about canning in a big way. If you can can it, she’s done it. Soups, roasts, pickles, tomatoes and jellies are just a few.


She also enjoys sewing, creating her own shirts, potholders, Christmas presents, and hot food carriers. When she’s not busy in the house, she’s outside tending to her flower garden. …and she has time to volunteer?


Michelle is also a homemaker who loves crafts, particularly wood working. She showed me a photo of the bar and bar stools she created out of some pallets. Impressive!


The way they got started as volunteers is interesting. They originally were in line to pick up food. To

while away the waiting time, they brought a card table and a deck of cards to the parking lot. One day one of the Epic-Cure volunteers asked them if they could lend a hand as they were short handed that day. The rest is history, as they say. They were hooked!


I asked them to describe the Melrose distribution. Two trucks bring pallets of food over, and the patrons wander through with carts selecting from among the pallets. Lately the number of patrons has reached 374.


Glenda and Michele took us on a tour of the Palatka warehouse. If you St. Augustinians haven’t seen it, you are in for an eye-opener! It is palatial. There are many rooms and areas for storage including one that houses the FEMA goods. Another is called the Doomsday room where essentials are stockpiled for disasters. In that room they will be able to supply other centers with food and needed supplies. The “refrigerator” is an enormous room maybe 40’ x 40’ by 20’ high. A huge sliding door is the access. Outside the building are three shipping containers the kind you see on semitrucks. Those are the freezers! This warehouse is set back from SR 17 with plenty of parking. Plus, they told us, they see deer and turkeys in the morning, and they feed a big raccoon and the crows at the perimeter of the parking lot.


Epic-cure is so thankful to you two faithful, dedicated, and trusted volunteers! In a more perfect world, we’d all be like you. Many, many thanks.


Fundraising


Asado Life Fundraiser: We LOVE our friends at Asado Life (and we love any excuse to eat their delicious food). On October 22nd, they donated a portion of their Sunday Brunch proceeds to us. Helping local nonprofits is a great way to support the causes that matter to you and to make a lasting difference.



$500 raised by Facebook birthday fundraisers in October!


Did you know that you can help raise money to support Epic-Cure’s. mission by doing a Facebook birthday fundraiser? Facebook sends you a little reminder about a month before your birthday - you can set your birthday goal and give it to your favorite non-profit: Epic-Cure.. It’s easy to set up and a notice is sent out to all friends and family. If you need help setting one up, contact us: support@epic-cure.org.



We held two additional fundraisers in October. On October 28th, the Shine a Light on Epic-Cure. 5K Race was held at the St. Augustine Ampitheater. The weather was beautiful, and about 150 runners ran the beautiful course. We are grateful to all the runners, sponsors, and donors that helped out and owe a very special thank you to the benefit’s organizers, Wendy Lantz-Cuadill, Jeremy Caudill, Mike Chismark, Barry Honan, and Jim Wauldron. Thank so much – a job well done!


On October 30th, we held the Third Annual Epic-Cure. Golf Benefit for Food Security at the Marsh Creek Country Club in St. Augustine. We were again greeted by glorious weather and are especially grateful to the golfers, sponsors, and volunteers that made the event so successful. Special thanks go to Mike Linnington and the Wounded Warriors Project team that attended the event and highlighted the ways in which our charitable missions are complimentary. Thank you to the Rotary Club of St. Augustine Sunset for providing such enthusiastic and helpful volunteers – you made it work so smoothly. And finally, we must thank our Tournament Director Bill Rodish who expertly guided our third consecutive golf fundraiser.


Both events were great successes and were real tributes to those that helped to execute them. We are grateful to all involved – runner, golfers, volunteers, sponsors, and donors!


Sustain U.®


We just wrapped up Fall kids’ classes on 11/2 and have one more class at the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic on 11/7. For the event we did with Compassionate St. Augustine (press release at the beginning) we hired 2 of our students so they would gain some work experience. The menu included Spinach, Strawberry & Goat Cheese Salad with Poppyseed Vinaigrette, Shrimp & Grits, and Creme Brulee They received certificates of achievement at the end.


Thank you, Maria Crann and Darlene Christianson, for volunteering your time to work with the kids that day!





Inflation – the Silent Tax (An Update)


It is an intimidating topic. It should be. It is the worst kind of tax as it harms everyone. It has been called the “Middle Class Killer” and is especially treacherous for the most economically vulnerable. We will not go too deeply into this subject, as we intend to take a deep dive on the subject in our Annual Report in January, where we will cover Sticky Inflation, Hedonics (subjective inflation adjustments), the end of the American Order globally, the impact of reshoring and “Friend-shoring” manufacturing, and the impact of energy availability (and, therefore, prices) on food price inflation.


You will read and hear from the media, political pundits, politicians, economists, idealogues, and all manner of nattering nabobs that inflation is coming under control. If, however, you ponder the topics we just listed, you may well say, “Not so quickly!” (To be continued.) There is still inflation … inflation that is building on all the inflation that came before as (perhaps smaller) percentages of ever larger numbers.


But for now, let’s take a graphic spin through the data that we have chosen, all of which comes from the economic research team at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. We have chosen some basic graphs to illustrate the impact on normal people, people not prone to narratives meant to deceive.


Starting with the big picture, here is a graph of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the US.

  • Over the 10 years ended September 1, 2023, the general consumer price index is 32% higher than on October 1, 2013.

  • Interestingly enough, the same index is 20% higher than it was at the COVID crisis low in May, 2020.



Since diesel fuel is so important to the transportation of goods over land. Here is that graph. Note that it has been volatile in the post-COVID era; however, the price trend is clearly upward.



We add this key and critical item for the obvious reason. It is a fun one: Potato chips!



Time for breakfast.


Bacon first:



White bread:



Milk:



Dinner, anyone?


Chicken:



Ground Beef:



And let’s not forget that we must pay to keep the lights on.


Electricity:



More to come in January!


Transparency:

Anyone who wishes to see Epic-Cure’s financial statements need only ask.

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