The SNAP Experience : National Hunger Awareness Month

September is National Hunger Awareness Month. From September 3-9, Arizona Community Action Association (ACAA) is sponsoring the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) Experience, a week long real-life experience living on just $29 for food, the same as a typical SNAP participant. This experience helps provide a slim view into what it is like to live in poverty. Helping people change their circumstance starts with local community awareness and support.  Help change your community by participating to raise your own awareness.

In Arizona, 1 in 5 people struggle with hunger every day and 1 in 4 children live in food insecure households. SNAP, the federal Food Stamp Program, is our nation’s first line of defense against hunger, helping put healthy foods on the table when Arizonans would otherwise go hungry. SNAP is a critical bridge to help individuals and families establish financial stability so they can move out of or away from poverty.

SNAP is intended to supplement the monthly food budget, although we know that many households rely solely on SNAP to purchase food.   We also know that SNAP can only reasonably cover about 70% of monthly food costs and average food consumption per person.

SNAP Experience participants are encouraged to use only $29 to pay for all food costs for the week.  However, you can supplement the $29 budget with a maximum of $12 more for food purchases not typically permitted on SNAP (hot and prepared meals or alcohol products, for example). SNAP Experience participants who choose this option are asked to not exceed $41 in total weekly expenses, and to track how the additional $12 is spent.

The SNAP Experience goal is to increase awareness about poverty and hunger in Arizona through a meaningful personal experience and to draw media attention to the hardships faced by those living in poverty. While this experience cannot give us a true sense of living in deep or prolonged poverty, it can provide insight into some of the challenges families confront.

For more information about the SNAP Experience, please contact  Angela Schultz at or by phone at 602-604-0640.  To participate in the SNAP Experience, please register online . Please register for one or all SNAP Experience options that interest you. 1) only the SNAP Experience, 2) the SNAP Experience and the additional $12 supplement; 3) SNAP Experience media events, and 4) ACAA’s SNAP Experience social media (blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc.).

Help to elevate the issue of hunger into the public discourse, whether by participating yourself in the SNAP Experience, being aware of the information ACAA provides about others participating in the SNAP Experience, or spreading the word to those you know about this opportunity.

Chandler Museum Presents “Rollin’ : Me and My Car”

Copyright Chandler Museum

Copyright Chandler Museum

Arizona is famous for its car culture. Most Arizonans love to drive. We host one of the biggest car auctions in the world and are the epicenter for local builder innovation. The Chandler Museum has new exhibit that showcases the special relationships local residents have had through the years with their cars. The “Rollin’: Me & My Car” exhibit takes you down memory lane, showing Chandler families and their cars.

“As we looked through our photograph collection, we noticed a universal theme; people love to take pictures with their cars,” said Museum Administrator Jody Crago. “The exhibit shows a variety of makes and models of historic automobiles, and their owners and other people posed in the photos.”

The Museum wants you to participate saving todays memories for tomorrows museum. You can share your favorite photo of you with your automobile on the Chandler Museum Facebook page, Twitter, or Pinterest with the hashtag #rollinmeandmycar. Photos can also be sent through email to, and the museum staff will add the photos to the exhibit.

“Rollin’: Me & My Car” is on view at the Chandler Museum through November 16. The museum is located 300 S. Chandler Village Drive. Hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

By the way have you seen the Chandlerpedia Wiki? The more you know!

Obama Visits Chandler to Promote Better Bargain for the Middle Class

Today President Obama visited Chandler to promote homeownership and his “better bargain for the middle class“. Obama is no stranger to Chandler. He visited in January 2012 to celebrate the construction on Intel’s new fabrication facility. Erickson Construction got to spend some time sharing with him the current state of the industry.

Copyright Nick Knupffer

Copyright Nick Knupffer

Chandler Mayor Jay Tibshraeny said it well, “The East Valley is really the perfect backdrop for anyone wanting to showcase what is good about our country. Strong family values, an economy that is emerging from the Great Recession with dynamic job growth, and a quality of life that continues to remain unsurpassed. It is nice to see that the president embraces all that is positive about the region and continues to promote the East Valley for all that is good about America” (via East Valley Tribune)

I think we have something to learn from Obama’s wise words. He said, “Phoenix has also led one of the biggest comebacks in the country. You should be proud of what you’ve done here.” We have a fighting spirit and are investing in our community. Chandler is the epicenter of the new economy in Arizona. There is something special going on here, join us in helping make it continue to rise. #whyAZ

Eating Healthy While Eating Out

I’m a bonafide fat kid.  I like food.  Bad food.  The worse it is for my health, the more attracted to it I tend to be.  Dieting doesn’t work for me, but changing my lifestyle would.  That’s hard.  Why?  Because my environment influences my behavior.  I need to learn the art of eating healthy while eating out. I did fantastic when Gangplank Health did the Fat Off, largely because the enormous support of those around me.

I am desperately out of control surpassing 250lbs and climbing to 260lbs.  My wife and daughters have started doing Crossfit  Incite and are supportive of each other and radically changing their environments.  This week I have decided enough is enough and I plan to change too.  Step one was no more soda.  I have been drinking mostly water and sometimes unsweetened tea.  Step two stop gorging on calories, measure what I put in my body and be smart about my choices.  Step three start exercising.  I am still stuck on step three, but the Gangplank Mile yesterday certainly helped motivate me.
I fail biggest at work.  When I travel I am horrible at eating right, but even at lunches I struggle.  As a team we try to eat together regularly, but we are pressed on time and often times don’t pick the most stellar places for someone wanting to make healthier choices.  I am learning that with a little footwork that at most places you can make a huge difference without starving yourself.  Here are two experiences I had this week alone.

Eating Healthy While Eating Out My Experience This Week

El Sol Bakery: Local Mexican Eatery (calories estimated by ingredients)

Old Me
886 Carne Asada Burrito w/ Cheese
12″ Flour Tortilla (356)
10oz Carne Asada (267)
1/2cup Shredded Cheddar (228)
Pico (35)
200 Chips and Salsa
440 32oz Mountain Dew (8oz x 110)
1,526 Total Calories
New Me
503 Bacon, Egg and Potato Breakfast Burrito (minus tortilla)
3 pieces of bacon (130)
3 eggs (306)
1/2 cup potatoes (67)
200 Chips and Salsa
0 32oz Unsweetened Iced Tea
703 Total Calories
823 Calorie Difference
Eating Healthy While Eating Out

Copyright Vivian D Nguyen

Smashburger : National Burger Chain (nutrition guide)

Old Me
1,048 BBQ, Bacon and Cheddar Big Smash
520 Smashfries
500 40oz Dr. Pepper (20oz w/ refill) (20oz x 250)
2,068 Total Calories
New Me
525 Build Your Own Burger
Whole Wheat Bun (200)
Grilled Chicken x 2 patties (110×2 220)
Sharp Cheddar Cheese (80)
BBQ Sauce (25)
0 40oz Unsweetened Iced Tea (20oz w/ refill)
525 Total Calories
1,543 Difference
In both instances I walked away full.  I also didn’t feel “cheated” (important to fat kids like me) like I had some crappy meal.  I didn’t have to choose the horrible salad option.  I don’t know if I am disciplined enough to keep it up, but this week I proved to myself it is possible.
Where do you get your support from?  How are you coping with a world that is designed to over feed us?

Chandler Named “Playful City USA” Community For 7th Straight Year

We are proud to acknowledge that KaBOOM! has named the City of Chandler a Playful City USA community for the 7th straight year. Recognizing the effort to provide children ample opportunities for play.


Copyright Ronn Tan

Play is essential to the social, emotional, cognitive and physical well-being of children. We are proud to have our Health, Local and Junior initiatives working with the city to provide opportunities and guide policy that encourages play. It is fantastic to see the lack of play in this generation of children being addressed the mayor, council, staff, school district and community.

“Quality parks, playgrounds, and aquatic centers have been a Chandler priority for decades, because we value families and we want our children to have opportunities for fun and fitness,” said Chandler Mayor Jay Tibshraeny. “We are committed to developing healthy, fulfilled children and families, and that’s why we are honored to be recognized as a Playful City USA for the seventh straight time.”

Sometimes it is easy to forget that children spend nearly eight hours a day in front a screen, many have no or little recess time and one in five children don’t live within walking distance of a park. Chandler has been actively creating innovative programs and initiatives to combat these problems by developing unique local action plans to increase the quantity and quality of play in their community.

Chandler is now eligible for grants via Let’s Play, a community partnership led by Dr Pepper Snapple Group to get kids and families active nationwide.

Local Initiative Improving Chandler Through Public Space

The Urban Times has a great piece on “10 Ways to Improve Your City through Public Space“.  It speaks volumes to the work we are trying to do with the Local Initiative in Chandler.  So lets take a look at what we have done to strengthen these areas.

1. Improve Streets as Public Places

When we first came to downtown Chandler we helped push for the widening of pedestrian ways, including adding benches and trees for shade.  In fact, it won an International Downtown Association Award. We have pushed for the city to close Arizona Avenue on a more regular basis for events starting with the Chandler Block Party.  We have a long way to go, but we are making a dent.

2. Create Squares and Parks as Multi-Use Destinations

We have worked with the Downtown Chandler Community Partnership to strengthen the Chandler Farmer’s Market and the Chandler Art Walk in the historic town square and AJ Chandler Park.  We have encouraged a number of events and expansion of the park to include a stage for 10,000+ person events such as the Great American BBQ and Beer Festival.

3. Build Local Economies through Markets

Once again the Artwalk and Farmers market are key examples, but Gangplank itself is an example of a bustling market for ideas.

4. Design Buildings to Support Place

We are working closely with the City on a number of RFPs for new building and have been active in zoning, adaptive reuse code and encouraging of pedestrian flow to connect all parts of the downtown area including access to public transportation.

5. Link a Public Health Agenda to a Public Space Agenda

We have failed here.  We have tried a number of attempts to various bicycle depots and other connectivity.  We have been moderately successful with the Gangplank Mile (GP Health) getting people out of their office and walking around downtown.

6. Reinvent Community Planning

Between City Camp AZ, Vibrant Phoenix, The Manifesto Project and various other events we have significantly changed the engagement level of residents by including them in the process of defining the future.

7. Power of 10

Gangplank, San Tan Brewing, Chandler Center for the Arts, Chandler Library, Vision Gallery, Paletas Betty, Vintage 95, Bourbon Jacks, and more.  We are getting closer, but still working on this one.

8. Create a Comprehensive Public Space Agenda

We have started discussions with the City but it is slow going.  Change is hard.  We have a few things up our sleeve.

9. Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper: Start Small, Experiment

We recently did a community garden using a neighbors front  yard.  We have done pop up events and played with space.  We can do better here but we are trying.

10. Restructure Government to Support Public Spaces

It is hard, but it is happening.  We meet with the city every two weeks and share ideas and explore new possibilities.  Working towards a relationship of mutual respect and trust in building great public space together.

I am also President of the Downtown Chandler Community Partnership so my work with the Local Initiative and the DCCP blurs greatly.  The Local initiative has a direct influence on the work in every way.

What are you doing for your community?

3D Printing Pen (3Doodler) on Order

WobbleWorks put together an incredible KickStarter recently, that raised over $2.3 million in funding, for a 3D printing pen.  The 3Doodler is a pen that can draw in the air.  You can hold it in your hand and draw 3D objects.  No software or computer necessary.

Gangplank Labs has supported this project and should have a 3Doodler in hand by the end of the year.  We will keep you updated, so when it comes in you can stop by and doodle with us.  Happy Hacking.

Explore Arizona Gangplank Junior Edition

It’s hiking season and it’s time to get out and enjoy the weather.  We have a few hikes scheduled for the season.  Hikes will begin at 9:30am and generally last 1-2 hours.  Most hikes will be about 2 miles in length.  More information will be posted as we get closer to the dates.

December 11th : Gilbert Riparian Preserve 2.0 Miles 0.5 Difficulty

December 18th : Piestewa Peak Alternate Summit 0.8 Miles 1.5 Difficulty

January 15th: San Tan Regional Park (Moonlight) 1.3 Miles 1.5 Difficulty

January 22nd: North Mountain 1.42 Miles 2.5 Difficulty

January 29th: Shaw Butte 2.7 Miles 2.0 Difficulty

Lego League Reflections: This Year vs Last Year

Ryan Dinnan and Tanner Saadi take some time to reflect on changes in First Lego League from last year.  They analyzed the good and bad of how things have changed.  Including, bot design, board layout, challenges, overall topic, the team and much more.

Tanner’s Thoughts

The bot design is much better this year.  We can attachments in more ways and much easier than last year.  The board this year is harder because there are more things on it than last year.  The challenges are harder this year because it feels impossible to get 100% this year.  The topic this year is better because it is something you never thought was a problem.  The team this year is better because we argue a lot less.

Ryan’s Thoughts

This year Lego League has been awesome.  There are less people so now everyone is involved.  Unlike last year when some people were sitting in the cornering watching instead.  This year the board has more challenges so is more exciting.  The challenges are difficult and easy.  The topic is also better because it has a variety of things that can be chosen from it.  The bot design is also better for adding attachments and easier to line up.  In conclusion, I think this year is better than last year.

Downtown Chandler Community Garden

We have been working with the City of Chandler, Chandler Christian Community Center and Harvest for Humanity for the last six months to get a garden situated in Downtown Chandler. The vision was a garden for the community with the surplus going to feed the homeless at Chandler Christian Community Center. We are proud to say that they broke ground this last week!

Many people ask “What is a community garden?” and what are the benefits?

Here are some of the benefits.

  • Improves the quality of life for people in the garden
  • Provides a catalyst for neighborhood and community development
  • Stimulates Social Interaction
  • Encourages Self-Reliance
  • Beautifies Neighborhoods
  • Produces Nutritious Food
  • Reduces Family Food Budgets
  • Conserves Resources
  • Creates opportunity for recreation, exercise, therapy, and education
  • Reduces Crime
  • Preserves Green Space
  • Creates income opportunities and economic development
  • Reduces city heat from streets and parking lots
  • Provides opportunities for intergenerational and cross-cultural connections

If you want to find out more about community gardening happening at Gangplank, check out our Community Garden Forum. If you want to do some innovating gardening, check out the Garden Pool Story.