SOQUEL -- Nancy Black, called Granny Purps just like the pot dispensary she owns on 41st Avenue, is known for her palate-pleasing recipes for brownies, cookies and other treats containing medicinal marijuana. This holiday season, however, Black and co-owner Phil Hicks demonstrated that their recipe book also includes the secret ingredient to bringing in outsized donations for the Second Harvest Food Bank holiday food drive: a complimentary joint.
For every four cans of food they donated to Second Harvest, patients received one pre-rolled marijuana joint, with a maximum of three per day.
"We had experience with Second Harvest because my husband is a retired chiropractor, and we use to collect donations from his patients at his office," Black said. "We used to do some sort of incentive to encourage people to donate, and so we decided to do the same thing here to get momentum."
In all, Granny Purps handed out 2,000 joints to dispensary clients and collected 11,000 pounds of food, a large and exceptional contribution for a business of its size.
"We look at pounds donated per employee, and Granny Purps, with about eight employees, received the amount of donations that we'd expect a business with 30 to 40 employees to get," said Danny Keith, chief development and technology officer at Second Harvest. "They had a good recipe for a small business. It takes the focus of the owner to implore employees and customers to participate. They focused on a goal of raising food for people who need it, applied resources and came up with a creative angle."
When the Second Harvest barrels were first put out at the dispensary in November, donations were trickling in. After word of the promotion spread to the dispensary's 1,900 patients, the employees at Granny Purps could barely keep up with the flood of food, and even reduced the minimum amount for the promotion from four cans of food to three.
"We only had the barrels out for three or four days before the incentive was announced, and I think our patients would have come out even without the incentive," Black said. "We have an incredible group of compassionate patients ... I love that our patients are so compassionate.
When we told them that we were doing this, their response was amazing."
Some patients donated way over the minimum amount, such as one person who brought in five pounds of rice. It wasn't just the patients that chipped in either. According to Black, one of the growers that supplies the dispensary donated some marijuana to be used for the promotional joints, which typically sell for $10.
Second Harvest, founded in 1972, helps feed an estimated 17,200 different people per week and 45 percent of the clients are children. Almost three quarters of the clients earn wages below the federal poverty level and a quarter are homeless. The organization's goal for its 2010 Holiday Food Drive, concluding this week, is 2.1 million pounds of food.
"Businesses like these fill half our coffers," Keith said. "There are some big contributors, a handful of them, but these food drives from small businesses and other groups really do a lot. With everything going on in terms of the economy, it's definitely tighter out there. It has been a rough year for everyone, and to have new businesses like Granny Purps pitching in is great."
After the successful drive this year -- the promotion ended Christmas Eve -- Black plans to do it again next year and has other community initiatives in the works.
"We are planning to organize a beach clean-up in January and have a promotion associated with it, but we haven't finalized anything yet," Black said.
By Tovin Lapan
Posted: 12/29/2010 01:30:20 AM PST
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Calif. dispensary sparks food drive with free pot