Oakland Unattended Donation Box Ordinance Jeopardizes local Non-Profit

A proposed ordinance by the Oakland City Council threatens hungry Oakland residents and will undermine efforts to remove textiles from local landfills.

Online PR News – 03-February-2015 – Oakland, CA – A proposed ordinance by the Oakland City Council threatens hungry Oakland residents and will undermine efforts to remove textiles from local landfills. The measure will directly affect the current partnership between the East Oakland Education Program, a non-profit in Oakland, CA and Recycle for Change a program that has helped local efforts for over 6 years.

As Hillary Clinton once stated, “It takes a village.” In some worst poverty stricken areas of Oakland, a partnership has existed for years that helps struggling families put food on their tables. The East Oakland Education Program has been fighting poverty and food insecurity in Oakland, and could not exist without the support of community partners like Recycle for Change. Sister Alice Muhammad runs the program out of the Rainbow Recreation Center and is a staple of the community.

According to Sister Alice, the organization along with several community partners and countless volunteers work tirelessly to fight the problems of hunger and poverty in Oakland. The organization collects food and other necessities for underserved families in the community. They collect, package and distribute food each week and distribute 200-300 bags of food to hungry families each Saturday morning.

hundreds rely on us in order to put food on their tables and in return we rely on our partners to make that happen

Sister Alice emphasized the importance of community partners, “hundreds rely on us in order to put food on their tables and in return, we rely on our partners to make that happen,” she said. “This ordinance directly threatens our ability to provide for those in need and we ask that the City Council take under consideration the impact this ordinance will have on our organization and the community at large.”

The ordinance proposed by the City would effectively ban donation boxes. The draconian measure fails to distinguish between good and bad operators and simply eliminates Recycle For Change’s ability to collect textiles for the benefit of the local environment and would hurt their efforts to provide education and training for volunteers to work globally for economic and environmental sustainability.

Recycle for Change has been a key partner, supporting East Oakland Education Program since 2009 when Recycle for Change dedicated groups of international volunteer workers to help at the center every Friday. These volunteers, serving from March 2009 to April 2010, assisted in cleaning, packing and distributing food to underserved families in Oakland. During that time there were 34 participants from many different corners of the world. After the volunteers returned to do their volunteer work in Africa, Central America and Brazil, the partnership with Recycle for Change evolved and has continued, becoming stronger over the years. They have generously provided East Oakland Education Program with all of the non-perishable food items that have been collected in their bins. They could easily discard these items or distribute them to a city closer to their facility in Richmond, but instead, they have taken the time to transport them from Richmond to our location in Oakland where the food items are sorted and distributed to Oakland residents in dire need.

These canned goods are particularly important to our program. While many families receive the food bags we hand out, most of those items require a kitchen with which to prepare those meal items, however, there are many that are both hungry AND without shelter. For these individuals, pre-prepared meals in cans are their only sustenance. These canned items can be opened, heated and eaten directly out of the can. For many, this is the only way to get a hot and nutritious meal. Without Recycle for Change, the organization would not be able to provide these items and these homeless individuals would be greatly underserved and would be forced to go without food.

Alexandra Hoffmann, the Public Relations Director for Recycle for Change has personally been delivering food items two to three times a month since December 2013, as her predecessor had done before her. East Oakland Education Program not only appreciates the donations, but also welcomes the time that the Recycle for Change staff members volunteer. We can always count on their help in preparing the food items for distribution to the public. Each time they come, they spend half the day standing alongside us and our other volunteers, helping with whatever tasks need accomplishing whether it is bagging food, organizing stock, or cleaning up. Most recently they were able to provide our organization with 4 pallets of laundry detergent, a donation which was much appreciated by our community.

“In my mind, actions speak louder than words. It is clear to me through the actions of this great organization that they are thoroughly committed to their focus on protecting the environment and fighting poverty” Sister Alice Muhammed said. “They are not just fighting poverty in developing countries, but also right here in Oakland. While I understand that there are for profit companies that operate bins in Oakland that give the industry a bad reputation, it would be a disservice to our community to punish East Oakland Education Program by banning our partner from operating in the City of Oakland via the implementation of this over-reaching and unnecessary legislation. “

“As a city and as a community, we need to realize that we will not succeed if we do not work together.” She continued. “People’s lives are stake. There is food insecurity, poverty, abuse and violence. We must all band together to make the streets of Oakland safe for everyone. Now is not the time to be tearing relationships asunder. We need all the help that we can get at East Oakland Education Program.”

“We are hopeful that the City Council will reconsider their position on the ordinance and vote NO so that the partnership with Recycle for Change and East Oakland Education Fund can continue fighting for those that can’t fight for themselves,” Sister Alice concluded.