Compton Chamber of Commerce issued the below statement in response to scurrilous Fake News social media attacks related to alleged claims of food waste and other irregularities at the Chamber operated Compton Food Pantry.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 17, 2021
Contact: Dennis Aytekin
Digital Media Manager
Compton Chamber of Commerce
Phone: (310) 631-8611 or (714) 841-3932
Compton, CA— As one of Compton’s oldest (founded in 1923) and the most effective business advocacy organizations and one the most civic minded public benefit organizations in the region, the Compton Chamber of Commerce is compelled to defend its reputation against slanderous attempts of defamation. Let’s be clear, this entire smear campaign is about intimidating and suppressing the ability of this honorable organization of great legacy to service the people in need, and eventually to seize control of the pantry operations for personal and/or political gain, or simple bumptiousness.
So that the Chamber leadership is unambiguously clear, as Jesus said in the Bible, John 8:32, “And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” Therefore, we ask the members of our community, the residents and the businesses of the great City of Compton, to always bear these words in mind, and strive for the truth.
In the late hours of last Sunday, on March 14th, it was brought to our attention that a photograph was circulating on social media platforms what appeared to be some dozen of produce crates filled with food having been thrown away in a dumpster outside the new location of "Compton Food Pantry" in Compton's Lueders Park. This deceptive photograph must have been taken sometime during day time on Sunday, March 14th.
Before we get into the meat of our statement, we must add that a picture can say a thousand words, and for some, that means everything. When you get a glimpse of a photograph, the only thing you can know for sure is what is presented to you to see. What happens before a "set up" photograph is taken may remain a mystery forever unless challenged by the effected party and the factual truth is put forward.
In a world where pictures are easy to take, it’s no wonder that almost everything seems like constantly being documented. But taking a picture isn’t always consistent to telling a truthful story. Dishonest cheats can and will set up a manipulative photograph to make staged circumstances seem incredibly disturbing. The truth behind such malicious attacks is often much darker than what meets the eye. Yet, eventually, the much darker purpose gets revealed. And with this statement we are aiming to reveal the darker purpose of circulating such legally punishable defamation.
COMPTON FOOD PANTRY OPERATIONS
In March 2020, the Compton city leadership launched "Compton United Resource Effort" (CURE) program in order to ease the food insecurity situation in the greater Compton region. Since the inception of CURE, the operation and management of the "Compton Food Pantry" has been trusted to the Compton Chamber of Commerce due to its extensive experience of successfully sponsoring, organizing and co-managing the "Compton Veterans Stand Down Program" for over 15 years - largest organization of its kind in Southern California. From March 2020 until January 2021, the city provided adequate space for this monumental operation, and for nearly a year, the Chamber collected, inspected, sorted, stored, packaged, curbside distributed and/or delivered food and hygiene items to over 100,000 residents in the region.
In the beginning of March 2021, in order to fit the needs of a larger scale pantry operation, the "Compton Food Pantry" moved to its new permanent location at the Lueders Park Community Center located at 1500 East Rosecrans Ave. in Compton
The pantry operates six days a week, and is closed on Sundays - no staff is on site.
· Mondays and Tuesdays, the pantry is closed to public. Staff works on food delivery, inspection and preparation on these days.
· The pantry is closed to public on Wednesdays. On this day of the week, the partner organizations pick up their allocated food supplies from the pantry between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm, while the staff works on food preparation for the upcoming distribution days.
· The curb-side and outdoors self serve food distribution hours/days are from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
FOOD WASTE MANAGEMENT AT THE COMPTON FOOD PANTRY
Food spoilage occurs when food is not handled with care, likely during the transportation, handling and distribution processes. Dry or fragile food such as pasta and cereals may be crushed or may break, fresh vegetables and fruits may be bruised and damaged, and canned foods may have dents, leaks, or may be swollen - such damage usually warrants disposal.
We are fully aware that food is one of the most important physiological needs of humans. The Compton Food Pantry therefore functions to ensure that supplementary food never goes to waste, but is given to the people who do not readily have access to it. Hence, throughout the entire year 2020, all absolutely critical measures have been gradually implemented into the pantry operation in order to minimize food waste. Having said that, when distributing food to a large population, we always keep in mind that food that is too old to be consumed could do greater harm than the intended good. It could lead to sickness and possibly, death. Such instances of sickness or death could lead to a complete shutdown of the food pantry operation. This a risk we can and will never take.
After nearly a whole year of weekly operations, the Chamber developed, optimized and implemented a series of procedures that streamlined the "preparation" activities, making the work easier, faster and more efficient, while avoiding food waste. Challenges such as expiration dates of food, limited space and cold storage as potential problems that may lead to food waste in the pantry, have all been addressed. Several methods were used in order to improve the quality of our services to the community, while avoiding food waste:
Creating and testing a new system of procedures for the activities during the food preparation and distribution days,
Developing measures that improved material handling,
Government research/guidelines regarding food handling and food safety,
Food manufacturers' food expiration data, and
FOOD WASTE RECYCLING PROGRAM AT COMPTON FOOD PANTRY
Compton Food Pantry strives to be "zero landfill" – and with good reason. Not only does this initiative signify environmental friendliness, but it eliminates inefficiencies in our waste stream recycling process. The goal of our food waste recycling program isn't just to make the Compton Food Pantry operation greener. It significantly cuts down on waste collection costs, too. Food waste recycling diverts several tons of waste per month and reduces waste disposal costs by 20-30%.
We recycle ...
Food waste, also referred to as organics, produced by our operation are collected, sorted and sent to a composting facility - We work with Republic Services which offers advanced commercial organic waste and composting services that create high quality compost and soil amendment products.
All food-packaging-related cardboard and paper products are sorted, flattened and sent to recycling.
It is with that as a background, that we will address how misplaced and malevolent the motives are of those who falsely accuse the Chamber of bad management of donated food.
Again, it has been rumored on social media platforms that on Sunday, March 14th, the pantry staff has supposedly thrown unknown amounts of produce crates filled with food into a dumpster located outside the new Lueders Park location of Compton Food Pantry. This false accusations of wrongdoing is far from true due to several reasons:
Accusation Flaw #1:
· The pantry does not operate on Sundays (our off day).
· Absolutely no pantry staff has been involved in this illegal dumping. Our pantry staff members leave on Saturday at 5pm and return on Monday at 9 am. No pantry staff is even on site on Sundays to commit the alleged atrocity.
Accusation Flaw #2:
· Our pantry staff is well trained and aware of dumpster "overfilling" restrictions set by Republic Services company. No pantry staff member would maliciously overfill a dumpster, being well aware that it won't be even picked by Republic Services.
Accusation Flaw #3:
· Our pantry staff members practice strict recycling procedures: cardboard and paper products are sorted, flattened and sent to recycling, and food waste/organics are removed from crates, collected in bins and sent to Republic Services' composting facility. None of such items from our pantry operation are ever thrown randomly into any dumpster.
Accusation Flaw #4:
· Next Monday morning, pantry staff removed the "trending topic" food crates from the top of the dumpster as per the code, and subsequently, Republic Services was notified to empty the dumpster.
· Underneath the purposely visible overfilling layer of the "few" food crates, the dumpster was full of unfolded empty boxes, old furniture, clothing, and other miscellaneous junk underneath. It appears that someone with malicious intentions placed a visible layer of overfilling food crates on top of this dumpster for a staged "photo op."
In order to prevent such illegal dumping on pantry grounds in the future, Republic Services has been asked to permanently remove the dumpster from the pantry area. The dumpster has been already removed at the time of this publication.
WHY TO GO TO SUCH LENGTHS TO DECEITFULLY SLANDER THE CHAMBER?
The reckless, defamatory, and deceitful nature of the baseless accusations begs the question of why someone would go to such lengths to deceitfully slander and defame the reputation of an honorable organization like Compton Chamber of Commerce, which has served the community for almost an entire century. Perhaps we can share a few very plausible motives.
Motive #1: Envy
Many homegrown organizations and groups of late in Compton are envious of the Chamber's success in serving the community with such dedication and professionalism. Behind the Chamber's success is its leadership that is fully invested in the advancement of the city of Compton and its fine residents. Despite all malicious fabrications, Compton Chamber of Commerce has evolved into a true leader in community service.
Throughout last year, the support has been unbelievable. We're neighbors helping neighbors. The organization could not have completed such a monumental task of feeding 10,000 people weekly for nearly a year without the hands-on support of countless volunteers. We have a wonderful community who supports us!
We believe that these fabricated illusions began with careless conjecture or misunderstanding, rather than malice in pursuit of hurting our organization and damaging our reputation. Yet, rather than ignoring these groundless claims, we will address these deceptive rumors and pursue legal action against whoever is behind this falsehood. At the present time, we are in process of starting an investigation to identify and expose the evil doers. We shall review the video footage from the security cameras in the area. Once the guilty parties are identified, we shall take legal action for defamation.
We take great offense at anyone who suggests any mismanagement of public trust put into the Compton Chamber of Commerce to run the food pantry operation on behalf of our community. Every decent person can imagine our dismay upon learning that certain individuals, without ever even bothering to first discuss this matter with the Chamber leadership to discern the truth, and without any substantiated evidence, so viciously besmirch the Chamber's good reputation, culture and character that took nearly a century to build. Those who engaged in this deceptive conduct should be ashamed of themselves. We may also sue the persons or entities under defamation law who are continuing to spread these false rumors.
We conclude with this famous quote from American patriot Martin Luther King, in his Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963:
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."