Respect, Integrity & Dignity: Dr. Cheryl Jackson’s Secret To Providing Meals To Millions!
DATE: JULY 21, 2020
PROGRAM: ALWAYS EVOLVING
GUEST: DR. CHERYL JACKSON
HOST: MIKE BAYER
MIKE BAYER: Welcome back to “Always Evolving” with me Coach Mike, Mike Bayer. I have a special guest today. I actually called my literary agent Jeanne Miller. I said, “Jeanne, I want someone who is doing really good in the world and I want to feature them in the podcast,” and she goes, “you have to get Cheryl “Action” Jackson.” I said, “Cheryl “Action” Jackson?” She goes get, “yes, she’s an author, speaker, TV host, and a successful social entrepreneur.” She happens to be a CEO of “Minnie’s Food Pantry” a charity she founded to honor her mother, the late Dr. Minnie Hawthorne-Erwing. Through this amazing charity, Dr. Jackson had fed over more than 12 million people in America. I’m so excited to introduce her, so let’s get started, welcome Dr. Jackson.
DR. CHERYL JACKSON: Thank you, thank you for having me Coach Mike and don’t we both love Jeanne Miller? She’s the best.
MIKE: Yeah. I mean I’m—and I’m—it’s really good to meet you and you’re in Plano, Texas right by Dallas?
DR. JACKSON: Right.
MIKE: And, and what are you a doctor of? Because this is Dr. Jackson, where did you get the Doctor degree?
DR. JACKSON: Actually I got it from a college. It’s just an honorary doctorate degree from all the meals that we provide. My mother and I got our honorary doctorate at the same time and it was the year that she died. They gave us—we didn’t know she was gonna die but about four months before my mother died we both received honorary doctorate degrees.
DR. JACKSON: Yeah, so now though, um, I am going—I just got a full ride scholarship to Paul Quinn College so I’m gonna go to college and see if I can get a real doctorate degree, if I can find the time.
MIKE: Yeah I mean it’s real enough it’s a doctor’s doctor. I mean…
DR. JACKSON: Yeah.
MIKE: …it’s real to me.
DR. JACKSON: Yeah.
MIKE: I mean it shows that you, you’ve done some great work and so fill everyone in on…what drives you to feed people?
DR. JACKSON: What drives me to feed people Mike is um, having been in that situation myself needing to feed my own family. I had two beautiful sons. My husband and I, we were both collectively working five jobs. He was working for the city, I’m working my jobs, we’re both thrown the newspaper and we literally couldn’t make ends meet, which is happening right now in this pandemic and um, so I was like, you know what, we gotta have a good meal and I went and I applied for food stamps and it was the most horrific thing I’ve ever experienced and I was just thinking, dang there has to be a better way, well life got better for me. I started—
MIKE: Well what is—let me, let me ask you real quick. What, what was so horrific about the food stamp process when you had to do it and why did you have to do it?
DR. JACKSON: Yeah, why did I have to do it? Because we just couldn’t--I was a choice. Do I pay my light bill? Do I pay my phone bill? Do we pay our rent? I mean we were just barely making ends meet. I’m making six dollars and fifty cents an hour and you know, you got two kids in school and so it’s just like and my husband—my father had told my husband, he said, “if you can’t rake care of my daughter bring her back home.” So every time I wanted to go to my parents to tell them, my husband was like, “you can’t, your dad said I have to bring you back home”, and so I was like, okay. I gotta—as a mother, I gotta make sure that my kids have healthy meals. So I said, the only way that I know to do is to just go and apply for food stamps and what was so horrific about it was everything from the all the big stacks of paper that you have to fill out to you just being called a number, you know, “Number 72”, you know? To the people that are sitting in the room and it’s just doom and gloom and it’s just—you just, you all sitting there and you all know that everyone has a need in that place and need is just something as simple as a meal. And it just, you, you—I’ll just never forget the smell, I’ll never forget the babies crying, I would never forget the women that were in there. I don’t remember seeing too many men, but the women that were in there that we all were just looking at each other ready for our number to be called and to see if we qualify for anything and uh, when they said that I didn’t qualify because we worked too much and made a little bit too much money. Uh they handed me a brown paper bag Mike, and in this brown paper bag, I promised you I embraced it, I took it home, and I was like I may not have gotten it, but at least I have a meal for today. When I opened up that bag, everything in it was expired…
DR. JACKSON: …and the only thing I remember were beets. I still have not cooked beets in my life to this day, and I remember just going down the wall. Just sliding down the wall and just crying and going, “God”. And um, I just looked at my husband, I said, I tried, we just got to work harder and that’s what we started doing, we worked harder and life got better. I won the 16th city tour to do interviews at the “Oscars” with “FOX” and then I started working for Emmitt Smith and ironically Emmitt Smith would sign his autograph and every autograph he signed people would have to bring canned goods and he would literally fill up truck loads of foods with canned goods and so I was like, wow, this is really, really big. Now, granted my parents were pastors, I saw them do this at our little small church but I’ve never seen it be done on this scale of Emmitt Smith running back of the “Dallas Cowboys”, “Dancing with the Stars”, the way he was doing it. So he gave me a glimpse into the possibilities and I was like, wow this is really cool, but life was really great and then my father died. And he died Father’s Day weekend 2004 and when he died it seemed like my world just turned upside down, I went into a three year depression. My mother—we lived across the street my mother and I, so um, she came across the street and I had gotten down to 106 pounds and she said, “if you don’t get up and do something, you’re going to die.” And I looked at her with tears going down my face and I said, “okay. (STAMMER) I’m gonna use my life to make a difference,” and I said, “all I know is when I was hungry, how I wanted to be treated.”
MIKE: So you said that your father died in 2004 and why was that so devastating to you that you ended up getting down to—did you say 106 pounds?
DR. JACKSON: Hundred and six pounds. It was that devastating because I was a daddy’s girl, you know. And my family, we were a very tight-knit family, and I loved my father. I mean, I—man, I—living across the street from him and my mom, I got to see him every day. Called him every day, you know, the butterfly kisses if you will, and um, I just felt like—and my father was a man of faith, so they were pastors so, um, my father preached about prayer. He would teach about faith, so I just started really praying and I’m like this God that you told me to pray to, surely he’s going to hear me and you’re not going to die. And when he died, I was devastated. I just, I lost all faith, and I lost all hope. I literally lost it all and I was wanting to go and be with my dad. I didn’t care about…
DR. JACKSON: …anything that was happening in my life. I just was like, dad’s gone. I wanna leave too. Not realizing what was still left, I just looked at what had just gone on to be and it was hard. It was very difficult.
MIKE: What was a turning point for you with getting over that?
DR. JACKSON: Um—
MIKE: Or getting, or heal—getting through it or healing or grief like…
DR. JACKSON: Mm hm.
MIKE: …whatever you would say.
DR. JACKSON: You know what, it was actually um, taking the two—so I looked at my mom, and I said, “you’re all that I have left.” I said, “I wanna do a food pantry. I wanna name it after you, and I really just want the world to know your name.” I said, “you’re all I have left mom,” and she’s wiping my tears and she’s like, “no baby you don’t have to do that.” I said, “yes I do. Mom, you don’t understand how incredible you and dad were—are to me, you’re all I have left and if anything happened to you, I would be so devastated.” So I held her and she held me and we cried and I just, I said, “this is what I’m gonna do.” So Mica had two cans of corn and I went and found a little building it was about a five hundred square foot building and I had the first and the last months’ rent and uh, that’s how “Minnie’s” started. And people were like, ‘there’s nobody hungry in Plano’. You know, Plano was at that time, um it was named the number one, the wealthiest city in the world to build wealth, that’s where you need to move to Plano, Texas. I mean it’s suburban. Steve Harvey lived like a mile, two miles to where I chose to open up my first “Minnie’s Food Pantry”, and I strategically chose a location that was by a grocery store that when people walked in and walked out they would see a line of the hungry so I would create some awareness and then it was at a very wealthy area so these “Porsches” and everything else that drove by they had to see that line and one thing I knew to be true, either you’re gonna help me or you’re not and sometimes people don’t do anything because they don’t know any better. And so, my job was gonna be to make sure that people knew my name and to know that the faces of hunger was not just a person on the side of the road with the “Will work for food” sign, or it’s not someone, you know, on Skid Row or in Tent City. The face of hunger is a mother who has two or three kids, who has daycare, diapers, and everything else or quick health crisis that now they have to choose, do I pay my rent or do I get food for my child? Those are the people that are now the face of hunger and I had to get that message out to the world and a lot of times, and I had to get the message out that when you serve them, serve them with dignity and integrity. That was my platform and so because I worked the red carpet at the “Oscars”. I said, “what would life be like if I put a red carpet in a food pantry?” Or when people….
DR. JACKSON: …walked in, ‘cause I remember all of our heads were down, they looked down and then would look up and say “is this carpet or me?” And we’d say “yes,” and I said, “what would it be like if music piped in this place?” because my mother had seven kids and all we did was sing, sing, sing. Now, I couldn’t hold a tune near a bad but I could sing, make a joyful noise and momma said, “well ya’ll better sing louder than Cheryl ‘cause she’s making a joy for noise, right?” So I said, “what would it be like if there was music?” So you walk in there’s red carpet and there was music and then I said, what would it be like if it smelled good? You know, because when you went into the government places and all these places, you don’t care, you know? So walk into “Minnie’s” there’s candles and fresh scents. I’m like that’s the space and place I wanna create for feeding the hungry and I started on the mission and it was crazy. ‘Cause everybody laughed, “nobody’s hungry Cheryl, nobody’s hungry,” and then they would bring me food. And Mike, they would bring me the same thing that I got when I needed a meal, but it was like expired stuff and I would look in the bag and sometimes I would look up with tears in my eyes and I would say, “close your eyes and if the person were standing in front of me, is the person you loved the most, would this be the meal you would want me to give them?” That is how I began to get the message across and then they be like, oh okay, I get it. ‘Cause at first they would be like, “no if they need a meal they should just be happy with whatever they get. I mean we’re giving them stuff,” and then people’s attitude started changing because we’re opening up their eyes. I said, “it’s a possibility that you’re the one person that can change somebody’s life. You can change it with a meal. Is this a life changing meal for you?”
MIKE: And one—tell me about maybe the first donor you had or there had to have been the first moment where somebody decided…
DR. JACKSON: Yeah.
DR. JACKSON: Yeah, you have.
MIKE: There had to been—
DR. JACKSON: It’s good, this is a good question, I’m a tell you why, because when I started “Minnie’s”, like I said, my mother and had a little pantry named after her mother. It was called “Hellen’s House”, right? So I was the voice for “Hellen’s House” and when I said, mom I’m gonna do “Minnie’s”, my mother, my mother was like, “but I don’t want you to do it. I want you to stay doing Hellen’s House for my mom.” And I said, but mom, I said, “um your mom has already passed. I said every time something great happens, you’ll cry and say I wish my mother was here to see this.” I said, “I don’t wanna say that. I want you to see the love that I have for you and I want people to say your name while you’re alive, right?” So for almost a year, my mother and I—we lived across the street but our relationship was strained because I walked away from something that was so near and dear to her. And so I looked at her and said, mom you’re a praying lady, go and pray and tell me what God says and if he tells me—you tell me he says close down “Minnie’s” to stay with you, I’ll stay with you. And she prayed and she called me three days later. She said, “do you wanna hear the answer?” And I said “yes,” she said, “God told me to leave you alone. He said that your organization, this “Minnie’s Food Pantry” that you’ve created,” and she’s just got tears falling, “will be one of the biggest charities known nationwide.” And I was like, really? And that day after we hung up the phone, I was doing a radio show. My radio show was called, “The Real Happy Hour”, it was one hour people calling me and being happy (SFX). That day Mike, a man called in and he said, “I wanna help you, I wanna help you.” He said, um, this is the same day that my mother just told me this, I was like, okay. He said, what’s your address? I give him my address, the next day he federal express a check it was for five thousand dollars. Five thousand dollars and I was like, Mr. Goodman, is this a joke? Is this a joke? ‘Cause I was at that time getting ten, you know, five, ten…
MIKE: Oh yeah.
DR. JACKSON: …fifteen, twenty. No thousands at all, but that was my biggest, huge. I—I called my mom, I was like, mom, mom you won’t believe this, and then from that moment until she passed. I was able to share all the donations whether a kid that did a lemonade stand and sent in seven dollars and they were so happy, till the kids that came in where, Mike one time I didn’t have the rent and I’m crying. I’m like God give a sign, am I really doing the right thing? And this was the only day I ever called in and my sister called, and she said, come to the office. I get to the office and there’s these two kids literally holding a sign and it said, “when I was hungry, you fed me.” (INAUDIBLE) yeah, and my rent was $1,350 there, they had raised $1,385. And it’s those types of stories that um, that let me know, you are definitely on the right track and uh, I haven’t looked back since. Um—
MIKE: And then it really grew to the point where I think I read over—and then how did Opah get into the mix? So you and she helped you raise a lot of money?
DR. JACKSON: She did, she did now Oprah is—you know I started following Oprah and I told my mom, I would say, mom Oprah’s gonna help me and she would—do my hair and she goes, she said, no. I would go to all of her giveaway. I mean some of her conferences and just really—you know I tell Oprah, I said, my mother gave me life, but then—my mother birthed me but you gave me life during those times when I needed wisdom, or I needed nuggets or I would watch the “Oprah Winfrey Show” and I’d write down every one of her sponsors and then I’d just start calling them. I’m like, if they’re giving it to Oprah, maybe they’ll give to me. And then every year I would ask Oprah if she would help me feed the hungry? Well two things happened. The first one was when my mom died, um I’m literally just—my mother died suddenly um, of a heart attack in 2015, Mother’s Day weekend. I just hung up the phone with her, she told me how proud she was of me and we were talking about us building a new facility right where she grew up, right on the corner. And she’s like, I can’t believe you love me so much. I’m so proud of you. I mean, I hear her voice right now, and I hang up the phone, do a board meeting, turn it over, turn my phone over afterwards. I missed 41 calls and it was if your mom, if you wanna see your mom, you need to rush, rush to the house. I get to the house and they’re wheeling her out and she had a heart attack and then she passed. And again, I went into a depression, I was sitting on the bed and I’m, I’m crying and I’m like I can’t ask for money, I don’t even care anymore. I wanna shut it down and then I said, “God, you just got to give me a sign. I’m grateful for what I’ve come this far but I can’t anymore. I just lost both parents.” And my—when I say, give me a sign. I get a ding from Oprah Winfrey, and it said, I didn’t know that your mom passed away. The text it said, I wanna donate $100,000 to your charity and I hope you’re okay and it just I mean I was just asking for a sign and there comes my sign. When you get a sign from Oprah, that’s a pretty big sign from God and Oprah—
MIKE: And had you, and had you ever spoken to anyone on her side prior to that?
DR. JACKSON: I’ve spoken to Oprah because I go to—I went to a lot of her workshops and I would always tell her I mean, I tell the people like, we saw you here, we saw you there. I’m like, I’m not gonna miss any of them because I don’t just go to her workshops to hear her speak, I go to learn. And I believe that that’s the success that I’ve had so far, is because I’ve listened and I’ve applied what she said and a lot of her workshops where some people is just, “oh it’s Oprah Winfrey!”, you know? I remember a newspaper reporter when she was coming to Dallas, they were like we need to find the biggest Oprah fan, right? And so um, they went on the search and of course they landed right here on my office, but the guy he C.C.’d someone but I was on the link still they go, I found the guru, the Oprah’s biggest fan (SFX). I mean he was saying all these things and I said, “I’m not her fan, I am her student,” when I spoke to Oprah, I said, “success without a successor is failure. So I am your student, you’re teaching me and when you’re gone if you go before me, you will know that I’ve learned your principles and I’ve applied it to my life.” So yeah, I’ve spoken to her people, I’ve sent her notes, not knowing whether or not she got most of them but didn’t matter. I just knew, you know when you know Mike that you’re gonna do something in life, right? And you…
DR. JACKSON: …know your purpose? Yeah, that’s where I was in life. I was like okay, my mom is gonna help me and Oprah’s gonna help me. And I, and I, I actually yes, the first time I met her, I—Oprah Winfrey had said, in her thing, she said in a thing, she’s like I was in this depressed state, she goes sit down, write the top ten things that you wanna do. So I didn’t even go to college like I said, but I said, okay I wanna have my own newspaper column, I wanna interview Oprah, I wanna interview Will Smith, I wrote all these things down and then that year Oprah opened her very first, “Live Your Best Life.” I flew from Dallas to Florida. My momma said, are you crazy? I said, no ma’am. She goes, well you’re not going by yourself. So six other people went with me and I said, I’m gonna interview Oprah Winfrey. And that was in my mind, it was in my heart, I knew. And so Oprah stands up on that stage and she just basically says you know don’t ask me for anything. Well I’m the last person she pointed to for a question and I said, “will you give me an interview?” She gave me the only interview in the house and it was then…
DR. JACKSON: …and then, when she interviewed me, she goes, “ask me anything Cheryl. I was like, why you give me this interview? Because you know, you don’t know me.” And she said, “because our spirits connected, what do you love to do?” And I said, “I love to give, I love to serve others.” And she said, “well you pursue that. And uh, she said um, Cheryl, your passion is doing that what you would do even if you weren’t paid to do it, now go and do it.” And from that day until this day, I’ve been pursuing my passion and Ms. Winfrey has been a great part of that journey.
MIKE: Because she even came out for an event for you, right?
DR. JACKSON: Oh, and so my mother dies um, Oprah—my mother died. And then Oprah had donated $100,000 to, to my charity and I was gonna thank her and so I was at—I got invited to her birthday party and at that time I was gonna thank her and I sh—she walked up and everybody was around, I just said, you know can I speak to you later in private? She said, I’ll call you. But in between this time, my younger brother now had surgery and it went bad and for 41 days his wife and I sat at his bedside so the doctors wouldn’t pull the plug. Well in those 41 days, I did not raise $250,000 which is what I needed so Oprah was supposed to call me, she never called well all of this had happened so I’m thankful she didn’t call because by the time she finally called me I was so frantic. I was like, “Oprah, Oprah, my brother almost died. I said, I’m $250,000 down in the hole.” She goes, “what’s going on?” And I said, “I don’t, I don’t have enough money.” And she says, “well I’ll give you that, I’ll give you that.” Just like it was nothing. I was like did she say that she was going to give me $250,000, she goes, “yeah, yeah what else Cheryl, what else? And now she’s like, who are these people you’re feeding? Tell me about them.” And what I love is that she had a genuine interest in who and what we were doing. Who are these people that are hungry Cheryl? How do we help them from one step to the next step, and that right there spoke so many volumes to me. A lady on her level, right? And so I explained that to her and then she said, “okay so is there anything else you need?” And I said “yes, uh my birthday’s next month and I’m an orphan, so like you have got to take me in”, so on my birthday, she uh, the next week actually on my birthday, she federal express me two purses and one purse had a check for “Minnie’s Food Pantry” for $250,000 in the purse. True story, you see behind me, it says, “Dear Cheryl, keep living in the spirits space. Many blessings abide there, Happy Birthday Sis. – Oprah Winfrey”. That’s what’s behind me, right there. Oprah Winfrey.
DR. JACKSON: And so that was crazy. Well we kept talking and she goes, “so I’m gonna send you something, is there anything else that you need?” And I’m like, “yeah”. I said, “For—I’ve been asking you for a long time to come be my keynote speaker at my Gala. Where we raise all our money.” I said, “it’s kind of like Noah saying it’s gonna rain and everybody’s laughing at him ‘cause it hasn’t rained or Paul Revere saying the British is coming and nothing happens.” I said that’s how Cheryl has been, every year I had put your name at the table saying you’re gonna come attend and every year I would tell Jeanne, Oprah’s coming,” and Jeanne would be like, “Cheryl that’s a lot to do, That’s a lot to ask her, that’s a lot.”
MIKE: Yeah, that’s Jeanne by the way that’s so Jeanne.
DR. JACKSON: Yeah, did you see her, right? And so um, so when she’s on the phone she says so you’re asking me to do what? I said, “I want you to come and speak.” “So the $250,000 I just gave to you wasn’t good enough?” I said, “No, honey. It’s not good enough.” And she goes, “Okay, I’ll do it Cheryl.” And um, if you look on “YouTube” and you “Google” “Oprah Winfrey and Minnie’s Food Pantry” there’s this amazing 35 minute speech that Oprah Winfrey does and she talks about her fueling her—she never has to leave the house ‘cause she does whatever she wants to do but she says she has to do it for me, because I was relentless and I did the work and she wanted to applaud me for doing the work. And it was just, we raised almost $2,000,000 that night. Yeah, but that’s the, that’s the testament to not giving up and I tell people, people say no, n-o because they don’t k-n-o-w. They don’t know who you are, they don’t know what your passion or your purpose is, but once you really educate them and that light goes off, that no changes. So when…
DR. JACKSON: …people tell me no; I just say not yet. I’m like you don’t know who I am and that’s okay I have to do a better job at educating you on who I am and what I need from you. ‘Cause I believe that we all have something that somebody else needs to get us to level that we need to go to. All of us do.
DR. JACKSON: You’re gonna help somebody get to their next level Mike. I’m gonna help somebody get to the next level and somebody is gonna help me and you.
MIKE: So that’s uh, that’s amazing story and it goes to show like why she’s Oprah, right?
DR. JACKSON: Mm.
MIKE: Just because the generosity…
DR. JACKSON: Mm hm.
MIKE: …the generosity doing it just because it was the nice and right thing and…just being other centered where as a lot of people are like no, I need the right press, I need the right look. It’s why she’s such an icon…
DR. JACKSON: Yeah.
MIKE: …is there’s none of that. Like there’s hardly anyone like that, that I, that I come across—there are, there are people like that but there aren’t a lot who are that generous, but now since COVID hit, I know that there’s been more people hungry.
DR. JACKSON: Exactly.
DR. JACKSON: Exactly.
MIKE: And what—tell me the difference of what’s going on now?
DR. JACKSON: So it—would it—I’ll just give an example, what before—pre-COVID, we were, we were serving about 5,000 people per month, now we’re doing almost 20,000, last month we done over 19,000 people. Served over 19,000 families.
DR. JACKSON: It’s almost a 400% increase and we really as a leader and our executive team we had to change our mindset on even how we served and where we served, normally we serve just from our headquarters here, but because you know, I got a phone call from the school district. There’s 16,000 kids that was living on free and reduced lunches so the school made, they said, we’ll give them breakfast and lunch, but now these families they don’t have dinner, they lost their jobs, so we made the commitment to provide them with dinner, so we have I mean drive thru’s at different schools, at colleges, at companies, where you know at any given time it’s 400 to 1,000 cars every single day. In one particular day, I had five drive thru food locations going at one time. It was just amazing. Um, it’s a great feeling, I drove around to all of them and I just really I just breath it in because I’m like this may or may not ever happen in the history of our organization again and hopefully there won’t be a need but to be on the front line able to serve our community the way that we’re doing is such a blessing, but it’s really frightening. Um, they said on the 25th of 31st, you know these people are receiving their checks. They were getting the extra $600 now, if that goes away, our numbers will significantly increase and so I’m praying that that get passed but in the meantime, you know, those who can give they see the need now, and even more than ever and I’m thankful that you know what they’re, they’re saying let us help you and then those who need you know, they’re coming through and, and the face of hunger like said earlier. The face of hunger has definitely changed you know I’ve seen people drive in ”Infinity’s” and “Escalades” and you know, you name the vehicle, hunger does not discriminate. Doesn’t discriminate against race, gender, whatever it is, and it’s certainly, um, I’ve seen them all and one lady I’ve said, “you still have new tags you know on your car,” and she just started crying. She said, my husband, his salary was reduced in half and he still has a job but most of us whether we were making $100,000 or we’re making $20,000. We’re living on whatever level we’re making the income, so either you’re making $100,000 and they take it to 50, you’re in trouble. Whereas somebody that’s making 20 says give me 50 and I’ll be okay so people don’t understand that and so we teach at “Minnie’s Food Pantry” never judge. When a car comes up you don’t worry about what it looks like and seems like, your job is to make sure that they get taken care of with dignity and integrity and respect.
MIKE: And what are the typical items that come in when someone gets a food for a day?
DR. JACKSON: You know, I’m glad you asked because when I first started, Mike I would probably give out like 10/11 canned goods and then protein was uh, was uh peanut butter and I was just happy that somebody had gave some peanut butter for protein. Then we went up to tuna, a can a tuna, but these days we um, we are giving away about 180 pounds of food, which is a equivalent to probably 150 meals and the items you typically get about 15 to 20 canned goods. You get corn, green beans, you get spaghetti, spaghetti sauce, you get um, roman noodles, you get snacks for the kids, you get peanut butter, you get tuna, you get I mean it’s everything that you need to make a meal, you get that and then on top of that we um, give them an 18 pound box of fresh fruit which is um, uh fruits and vegetables. So like today, they got a three pound bag of apples, three pound bag of oranges, three pound bag of potatoes, three pound bag of carrots, and a three pound bag of um, onions, and so it’s just like, and then meat. So we partnered with a company and they’ve given us like five pound bags of meat so last week for instance in all of our giveaways, each person got four, five pound bags of meat like fajita chicken meat and it was um” Hormel and Tyson”, so it’s good stuff. That’s what I’m excited about. It’s just like I’m not just given out anything, I’m giving out you and I would both buy, when I’m see it coming through, I’m like wow this is happening at “Minnie’s” you know? And people are like, there’s a lot of giveaways happening but none of them is like “Minnie’s Food Pantry” and we, we do that on purpose. When we go on location, we have our remote uh, we have big sound boxes, and sound systems with our music going. So we’re dancing and when the drive thru come through and it’s like karaoke time, and we’re telling them to dance, so by the time they get up to—if I’m the front, get up to me. I’m driving them on up is like come one, you know? And it’s just the happy moment, the kids, my dad used to eat these little blow pops, you know with the candy on the inside so we’ll give them the candy it’s just a memory of my dad at the kids are there and the parents say it’s okay, so we just try to make it very, very festive so if they do need a meal, they’re not thinking about that, they’re thinking about the person giving it to them.
MIKE: So what’s your vision—where do you want this all to go for you? Do you have a vision of where you wanna…
DR. JACKSON: Yeah.
MIKE: …end up in five years with this?
DR. JACKSON: I do, I actually wanna put a “Minnie’s”—my next one is actually to do what I told my mother I was gonna do in our last call. I wanna build a “Minnie’s Food Pantry” right on we bought the land and so we’re gonna build a “Minnie’s Food Pantry” on Prosperity Street. Although everybody lives in poverty in Prosperity Street and then my vision is to come out and I wanna do something in Tent City, I wanna do L.A.—I mean Skid Row. I went out there during the holidays and I’ve taken my truck and we’ve driven out there and we fed the homeless out there and I think there’s a great opportunity for us to connect with them, some people they’re on Skid Row because they want to be, some people don’t want to be, but they don’t have any help so I have a vision of finding out who wants to stay there and who wants to get out of there and how do we work together to get that done? And then just really franchise “Minnie’s Food Pantry” and take it around the world. There’s no other place like “Minnie’s Food Pantry” it’s, it’s an experience and we created a space and place where people, they can um, they can um, they try to dupli—they try to imitate but not duplicate.
MIKE: So what’s a—for you right now, what’ the biggest challenge that’s getting in your way of doing more, like you’re saying? What’s the biggest challenge?
DR. JACKSON: Well as you know like the funding, when, when, when the pandemic hit you know a lot of our community partners—let’s say for instance if we have “Walmart” as one of our community partners, so when people started going to the grocery stores, we became a voice so that we were kind of like food rescuers, that’s what we would do. We would go to 56 different, um, do 56 pickups a week. We would go to “Walmart” and let’s just say for instance, a salad expires in three days. They would pull that salad so it’s not thrown in the trash and we would immediately get it out into our community, right? Well when the pandemic hit, now there’s nothing to expire because everybody is buying all the food, so now we’re having to pay retail price if we run out of the food that we need. We’re having to pay retail prices for that food and then having transportation um, having refrigerated trucks. They’re like $100,000 a piece for these trucks, but they’re so important because when we go on location, to um, to give out food, I—my goal and my dream is to make sure that every location, we’re able to give out the meat, the milk, like boarders will meet us and bring us some milk, but we have to have those types of trucks and so if I’m were to do that and we’re doing five locations at one time, that’s a half a million dollars in just trucks that I would have to purchase. And so we have to do one and then we’ll do another one. So that’ some of the challenges and then, to be quite honest with you, we started the pandemic with 17 employees. We have 52 right now that helps us get this out, but that’s because there’s a company that Mark Cuban and others invested in called, “Shift Smart” and they brought in 35 employees to come and work for us to make sure that we’re able to meet the need of hunger in our communities. When this ends, whenever it is, it may go through the next month, we got another month through August, but when this ends then I’ll be challenged which trying to hire the same amount of people so that we can continue on the level just right now where we’re at. So that’s a concern for me.
MIKE: Mm, well, learned a lot and uh, you’re driven, inspiring, as Jeanne Miller said “Action” Jackson. “Action” Cheryl Jackson—Cheryl “Action” Jackson. I really appreciate you coming to the podcast uh, people can check out uh, what, what Cheryl’s up to and everything going on at “MINNIESFOODANDPANTRY.ORG”. You can also follow her on social media at.
DR. JACKSON: “Minniespantry” is on “Instagram and “Cheryl Action” is on “Instagram”.
MIKE: And “Cheryl Action” is on “Instagram”. Um, and also I’d love for you guys to check out my free empowerment group on “Facebook”. We meet every Tuesday on “Zoom” to learn more go to any of my social media handles, “CoachMikeBayer” or go to “COACHMIKEBAYER.COM” to join and don’t forget to download and subscribe to “Always Evolving” with the Coach Mike podcast today, we will send you reminders about all of our upcoming podcast and I really wanna thank you Cheryl for joining us today.
DR. JACKSON: Of course.
MIKE: And uh, I know that this won’t be the last of our connections so…
DR. JACKSON: I hope not. I hope not, thank you for allowing me on your platform. I appreciate it.
MIKE: Thank you.
(END OF PODCAST)