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Why Now is the BEST Time to be Charitable (with Adam Lowy)

Ken McElroy:
Hey everybody, its Ken McElroy here. I’m here with Danille.

Danille:
Hello, what’s happening.

Ken McElroy:
And we’re really excited about our guest today, Adam Lowy. He’s the executive director and founder of move for hunger. Welcome.

Adam Lowy:
Thanks for having me.

Ken McElroy:
Yeah. Yeah. That’s great. It’s the perfect time to talk about this. And you know, as you go, as you know, Adam, you know, we’re a company that’s pretty giving all year. It’s one of our core values as a, as a company. And so what we wanted to talk about today was how I think that we should incorporate giving into your philosophy as you make money. And I think there should be a social component. Right? Definitely.

Danille:
It shouldn’t just be, you know, right before the holidays, it should be all the time.

Ken McElroy:
Yeah. Yeah, yeah. So let’s, let’s jump right in with this, uh, this, this is going to come out right before Thanksgiving, right. And Adam, uh, I would imagine that that’s probably a pretty big, um, uh, probably a pretty big need this year, right. With everything has happened.

Adam Lowy:
Absolutely. Um, prior to the pandemic, there were 37 million Americans struggling with hunger. Um, and as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which I feel like, hopefully we’re at, we’re seeing the end of we’re getting toward the end, but, but still it’s now 42 million Americans that do not know where their next meal is coming from. So essentially all the progress we have made around hunger and food insecurity over the past decade. And I’ve been at this for 12 years now was erased over the past 18 months. So the need is definitely great right now.

Danille:
So why is there such a need, um, like how did COVID impact that need for, for that?

Adam Lowy:
Yeah. So I’d say be- before the pandemic, there were a number of people struggling with hunger. I mean, food insecurity is a very difficult issue to, to really tackle and to think about because it’s not just, oh, somebody’s hungry. Um, it’s, it’s, there’s a problem with, um, you know, the way that people are able to make enough money to support themselves and their families. Hunger is a symptom of poverty if you think about it. So we’re not just trying to solve hunger, we’re trying to solve for poverty, um, which is obviously a much more complex issue. Um, and when you think about the folks that were struggling with hunger before the pandemic, and which is very true today, um, it’s not just those stereotypical people that you think about. And when I started moving 112 years ago, I didn’t know anything about hunger. So I thought it was, Hey, you know, it’s, it’s…

Adam Lowy:
Homeless people are hungry or it’s people, you know, in major cities like New York or LA or Chicago, but it really is, uh, an issue that affects and touches every single community. Um, you know, your friend, your neighbor, making difficult choices of if they’re going to pay their mortgage or their car payment or buy medicine, or put food on the table for their families. And these are choices that Americans are making every day. Um, and again, it’s people, single moms working two jobs it’s still don’t have enough to make ends meet. Um, you know, I think a lot of the stereotypes you out the wayside, um, the folks that were struggling the most with hunger, uh, prior to the pandemic got hit doubly harder, um, particularly people of color, um, or African-American friends and neighbors, um, experienced hunger at twice the rate of others here in this country. Um, and it’s just an issue that I don’t think gets enough attention. And as you mentioned at the top of, of the, the, um, probably cast here, it’s something that we should be thinking about year round, not just during the holidays. So I’m really happy that we’re talking about this as we lead into Thanksgiving, but I’m more grateful for the fact that your company has made the commitment to tackle this issue with me for hunger and make it part of your fabric on a year-round basis.

Ken McElroy:
So let’s talk a little bit about that guys. Cause I think, you know, obviously this is a real estate channel and there’s a lot of people that listen, and I will tell you that I started off as a check writer, you know, the end of the year, I would like, oh yeah, yeah, I’m going to donate a little bit. And every once in a while, maybe I’d get up and, you know, get involved in a golf tournament or something like that. But it was, it was never really part of my day-to-day thinking. It was never really part of my day-to-day investing, but now it’s very much part of our culture and it’s attracted some incredible people to our organization as a result of, of, uh, you know, making it actually one of our core values. And I think that’s kind of what I wanted to talk about today is, you know, we can all make money and do well by also doing well and, and being socially responsible. And, and I, I would just encourage people to listen. I get it. It actually, you have to be intentional with it, but there is a, you know, when Ross and I in vast w uh, every, every single deal that we have, there’s a percentage of our profit that goes into our foundation, which supports a full-time person. And, uh, as you know, Alan, uh, our Adam, sorry, the, you know, she, uh, Lynn worked for us and, uh, you know, her job is to do partnerships like this as an organization, right?

Adam Lowy:
You, you hit the nail on the head, doing good, is good for business, right? You won’t want to work with partners that are doing it for the right reasons. Um, but we also want to work with partners that understand that when you make giving back, and when you make corporate social responsibility, part of your company’s DNA, your impact will ultimately be that much higher. Um, when we started with you this year, and Lynn has been wonderful to work with, um, you know, she said, Hey, we want to be doing more than every other company out there and already in the years, not over again. Um, your company has been able to collect, uh, enough food to provide nearly 10,000 meals to individuals in need. And for those folks that don’t know much about them for hunger, um, whole idea is we’re working to give folks the opportunities to donate their food when they move, um, providing those really easy ways, um, to donate any unopened non-perishable food items during move out.

Adam Lowy:
Um, and then we get that food picked up and delivered to a local food bank or pantry in those communities. But in addition to around organizing food drives and fundraisers and educational events and special campaigns that can engage people on a year round basis about these issues. So at its core, it’s a matter of just incorporating move for hunger into your operations, right? You’re operating more sustainably. We’re switching to responsibly. Um, food waste represents 35%, 35% of the food produced in the United States goes to landfills. So we’ve got a huge opportunity when folks are moving out to educate them about these issues and encourage them to do something. And while you have all this waste, as I noted earlier, you also have all this need. So there really is a great way to tie that together. Um, and that’s that?

Ken McElroy:
Yeah, I love the concept. I mean, you guys, if you guys are landlords or ma or managers or whatever, you know, you have people that are moving in and out and all this is, is rolling out something that is so simple. I mean, who wants to pay a mover or somebody to load up all their canned foods across town, right. So you’re better off, uh, this is, uh, this is, uh, I’m really, really happy that, that, um, we found each other. And, and I think what I really wanted to talk about today was there’s, you know, we, we always seem to bring this up around the holidays, but the truth is this is not a holiday issue. It’s a, it’s an ongoing issue. And you said, we’ve, we’ve erased 10 years of progress by just 18 months with this pandemic, right.

Adam Lowy:
Folks that are going to the folks that started going to the food banks, um, during COVID where people that never would have thought that they go 40% of the people that were going to food banks as result, COVID, we’re going for the first time in their lives. So it’s not like, oh, it was just getting worse. No, you’ve got, you’ve got a whole generation of people that are not falling through the cracks. I mean, we’re seeing some industries come back, but as we know, some industries are disappearing entirely. I know the real estate industry is and feeling the effects of this is companies decide what they’re going to do with work from home. And, you know, just the way that some of the retail is happening. So it’s, it’s happening across the board. Um, and I think really what we’re going to have to do is just think about the systems, um, that are in place. Um, we’re going to have to, it’s not just something that government can solve, right? Like certainly there’s some policy that needs to be changed to help people out of poverty, but it also takes, you know, people to, to just think about how we can support our communities as a whole, how can we do a better job supporting those that live and work around us and that, you know, is a really important conversation. It

Ken McElroy:
Is. Yeah. And guys like, you know, w we’re not asking you to support my foundation. What we’re, what we’re asking you guys is to, is to make a conscious decision, to be socially responsible for your community and, and to make it part of your investing philosophy, make it part of your core, your DNA, make it part. If you’re trying to grow your company culture. One of the, one of the craziest things Adam, that happened was when Ross and I decided to embrace this and bring Lynn on, and really, you know, I can’t remember how, I don’t know how much money we give away every year, but it’s hundreds of thousands of dollars. And, and, um, when we decided to do that, what happened was we started getting a lot of national attention from the media locally, as of course. And, and then when we hit the skids in the, in the pandemic, we actually had a well-funded foundation that actually helped our own employees, families, uh, the local food banks.

Ken McElroy:
And we got to sit around the table and, and literally say, okay, where w who needs money and how should we deploy it? That is intentional. And otherwise, otherwise you just, you know, trying to cut checks, um, you know, kind of, you know, re on a reactive basis, but you can actually make this part of something that’s way more proactive and make it part of your culture, you know, think of fair trade coffee, think of Toms, think of companies that you guys buy from right now, because they stand for something. And there’s nothing saying that you, that we all can’t do that. Wouldn’t you agree?

Adam Lowy:
People want to work with socially responsible businesses, right? Not just from a consumer standpoint where you’re looking to buy a product or service, but also people that want to feel part of that team. They want that part of the culture. They want to know that the company that they are working with stands for something, and it’s doing good. And I think that’s definitely a part of the conversation. Um, and you’re seeing it more and more these days where companies and investors are standing up and saying, you know what, for the first time in history that the conversation maybe has shifted, I’d say over the past three to five years where it’s not, every conversation is profit over society, you’re starting to see the scales even out a little bit. And that is really hopeful for someone like me, who who’s working to really enact some change here. Right?

Danille:
So Adam, on a, on a smaller level, you know, we have a lot of single family landlords that listen to this channel. So say my tenants were moving out. How do I go about contacting a move for hunger? And how does that work just on, on like a single family rental.

Adam Lowy:
So on single FA we are our program right now with apartment communities is really on the, um, multifamily channel right now. So we started with eight properties. We know about 3000 multi-family properties, um, across all 50 states. Um, we don’t have a model yet for single school family. Um, however, we do have a moving program that is available for that. So it’s what we started with when I started for hunger 12 years ago. Um, it was, it was out of my family’s moving company, right? My family’s on a moving company for a hundred years. My great grandfather started my dad and uncle still run the business. I worked on a moving truck growing up, which I don’t recommend anybody do, but builds character. At least that’s what my dad told me. Um, and you know, what we saw was people leaving food behind or throwing it away.

Adam Lowy:
Um, so what started with the families moving business, trying to do one good thing. Will you donate your food when you move? Um, has now turned into more than 1100 professional living companies across the U S and Canada, um, that will offer as a service, a free service provided to those customers where you can donate your food when you move. Um, anybody looking to find professional Rubrik and visit a website for hunger.org, click on, find a mover, you enter your zip code and all the moving companies will pop up in that area. And not only that they’re in order, based on how much food they have provided to their communities. So we’re not ranking them based on how much did they pay to be on the top of the list? No, we’re ranking them based on impact. And I think it’s really important to be able to provide people with that resource. So, um, we do have 1100 professional movers today that can certainly service any single family homes out there as well.

Danille:
That’s great. So you landlords listening, you know, you could always send your tenants when they’re going to move just the moving companies you recommend based on this. And, you know, hopefully your tenants will take it in their own hands and book, a moving company that will, um, you know, work with move for hunger.

Adam Lowy:
Absolutely. We’d love to have them.

Ken McElroy:
And the other thing that I just want to point out is I think, you know, just on a bigger picture here, Adam, like, like I think people really need to need to consider doing something, right? Like just whatever they’re passionate about. I would think that, um, that, and that, that is such an easy thing to be able to just bring your food. Now, what we used to do is we used to actually say, if somebody wanted to swing by our apartment communities, then we would be kind of the hub. So that was another way that we used to do it. So I actually have a fair amount of experience on this. I was on the Arizona association of food banks board, and, and we used to, there were seven large food banks in Arizona at the time. And, and so I got to see kind of the inside, uh, workings.

Ken McElroy:
And what I found was kind of what you touched on a little bit, Adam, is it we’re, we’re not, we’re, we’re talking about people that have, um, a job interruption. We’re talking about people that have some medical things come up, you know, w we’re talking about people that when they walk in to get their food box for the week there, it’s actually pretty surprising. They’re the same kind of person that might be standing next to you anywhere. And, and you just don’t know their circumstance. So, so this is a, this is something, the other thing that I learned while being on that board is that if, if kids are hungry, they’re not learning when they go to school and they can’t like, you know, I mean, you were a teacher, right? I mean, you probably saw a little bit about this.

Danille:
The school did a lot for that. You know, they did free breakfast and free lunch. And sometimes that’s the only food that kids get all day because either their parents can’t afford it and they’re just not in a position to take care of them or whatever the reason may be. So, um, and then

Adam Lowy:
The summertime, when is you’re out of school, they’re not getting those free reduced lunch options. And it’s, it’s, it’s really a challenge. Um, you know, I have a three-year-old and a newborn, and I’m surprised even just how many kids are eligible for free or reduced lunches just in my community, because you look around and you don’t see it, right. You don’t see the obvious signs of poverty and food insecurity, but it’s here. Um, it’s, it’s touches every single community. Um, can you said something that resonated with me as well, uh, where people and companies should do things that they’re passionate about? Um, I agree with that, but I would add, I would add on one important detail to that, and it’s to think about the resources that you can leverage, right? So it’s one thing to have passion. You got to have passion, but it’s another thing to put the right resources in place at the right time.

Adam Lowy:
So, you know, with move for hunger, when we started, we had trucks, we had drivers, we had boxes. We’re gonna really get that and put that in a way to help recover food and deliver it to food banks. Now, with multifamily, we’ve got 74% of folks that aren’t moving with them. You know, they’re not hiring a moving company. So we were missing all of these people, but they have research sources, right? They have a move-out process. They have a process that happens when a unit turns and by incorporating this sustainable process into that, we’re ultimately able to recover more food in a way that doesn’t really cost the company any additional time or effort. Um, it becomes part of their process. And that has always been kind of our model from day one. How do you take resources and set them to work?

Ken McElroy:
Yeah. And I think people have more network and more resources than they actually like give themselves credit a lot of times, you know? And, and I, I know like we, we, we have, we’re very active with cystic fibrosis. We’re very active with autism. We just had a walk, uh, autism walk where there’s 20,000 people that showed up for the walk. And so what happens when you start to get engaged? You know, as I, I, everybody says, they say, you know, I, I have two kids and they, the, I used to bring them to all this stuff, right? There’s you, you have to get your company involved. You have to get your family involved. And then what happens is they start to see things from a different perspective. And, and I always tell people, I remember I was the chairman of the walk one year, and I said, you know, kids need, they need twice the time and half the money, you know, you, you, you, the kids, they, they need time.

Ken McElroy:
And when you bring kids, uh, your family, your, your company, then what happens is magic starts to open up and people start to realize the resources. They have, the things that they can do. My kids would show up and they would be part of registration. And they were 10, 12, 13 years old. And they loved it, you know, and the people were bringing packets of money and they were turning them in. And, and, uh, and then they walked and, you know, and then they were hitting the booze and stuff like that. And it turned into it. Wasn’t like, it didn’t feel like anything other than fun when they went and then, but the firsthand, they got to see the people that were affected. And we did the same thing with the food drive, you know, when they’re actually packing boxes and handing them out. Um, you know, we went to, we went to Africa and we worked in an orphanage. They’re both my kids, same thing. And, you know, so you, you, you start to realize it, it just isn’t the same, unless you’re actually physically there

Adam Lowy:
It is. And, and especially with young people, they, they want to do good too. They don’t always know how, but, you know, one of our jobs as an organization is help facilitate that and help give them that, that opportunity to, to really put their passion to work. Um, during the pandemic, you know, we organize a lot of food drives as an organization. And food drives kind of came to a standstill because he didn’t really want people to gather and be together. And I think we saw a lot of that happen, not only on an individual level, but on a corporate level where companies that used to do all these volunteering events, all that kind of stopped. Um, and we had a young girl, um, in the DC area, um, that wanted to organize a food drive. So we came up with this new idea. We called it our front porch food drive, and we gave her a whole bunch of food collection bags and letters, and said, put these in all your neighbors, um, you know, purchase and let’s collect it and we’ll send a truck to pick it all up, um, at the end of the drive.

Adam Lowy:
So let’s, let’s wait about a week. I said, how many bags do you want? Do you want 20 bags? Do you want 30 bags? And she said, I want a thousand bags. I said, you’re, you’re pretty bold kid. Um, but I gave her a thousand bags because I get on a zoom with it there. And I see this little spark in her eye. And she’s like, I wanna, I want to do this in my mind. I’m like, if we collect a hundred bags of food, this is a good day, right? Like out of a care, like this would be amazing. She collected 600 bags of food basically in a day. Um, and like, it is, it is young people like her that continue to like surprise me every day. And I just, I love seeing people, um, go beyond my expectations, right. Because they want to help their communities. And it’s our job, all of our jobs, your job, my job, it’s our job to help facilitate that. Whether it’s a young person or an employee, um, we need to work together to make sure that everyone has an opportunity to do that.

Ken McElroy:
Yeah. Yeah. My, my son, uh, one of the, when we were deciding what schools to send them to, one of the factors was that, uh, one of them had 30 hours mandatory every year of community service. And the school had a list of things that they could do, and they could choose because it was a list. And, um, and that was one of the, that was one of the ciders. Cause what I found is there’s a lot of ways people can get involved right at them. I mean, they, they, you know, from our organization, you can get involved as a volunteer. You can, you can, you can make phone calls. You can, um, you can help people, you know, w w we evolved in the, in another charity here called you mom, which is another really, really good one. Cystic fibrosis just did an online virtual event. Um, you know, there’s walks, you can get involved in, there are things it’s just a matter of allocating your time to the right things. Right?

Adam Lowy:
Absolutely. Absolutely.

Ken McElroy:
So, um, what’s the best way people can reach you and, and, uh, what are some action steps that people could do now today?

Adam Lowy:
Yeah. There’s a lot of things that people can do today. Um, so first and foremost, if you’re listening and you’re a multifamily community, sign up, move for hunger.org/join, you can get your property involved. Um, we can help provide you with food collection bags, marketing materials, educational materials, and allow all of your residents to donate their food when they need. Um, giving Tuesday is just around the corner, November 30th. Um, please visit our website for hunger.org/donate, consider making a donation that way. Um, and then finally visit the website and take action. You don’t need to be part of a company. You don’t need to always give money, visit the website, organize a food drive. We are here to support you. Um, so you get help feed your community in.

Danille:
Great. And just to reiterate, cause you cut it cut out there a little bit. So Tuesday, November 30th is giving Tuesday. Do you want to elaborate on that a little bit?

Adam Lowy:
Tuesday, November 30th, giving Tuesday, um, it’s one of the few days out of the year, we’re encouraging people to give to charities that they care about. And I hope after listening to me a little bit today, move for hunger will be one of those charities that you give about you, that you care about. Um, if you visit our website, we’re going to have a few different companies that are going to be matching gifts that day. Um, so your dollars could be worth more, but you can learn more all about that and moveforhunger.org/donate.

Danille:
Awesome. And you guys, that’s this coming up Tuesday and make sure you set it in your calendars right now. So you don’t forget that you want to go to the website and donate.

Ken McElroy:
Yep. And, and lastly, let’s, don’t forget that you can make this fun, like this should be not just something that you think about right around Thanksgiving and Christmas times. And you know, that’s when it comes up the most, that’s when you see a lot of the ads, but, uh, as we all know, that’s not how things work. People are in need all the time. And what we’ve done at them is we’ve gone to our residents and they’ve stepped up. We’ve gone to our employees and they’ve stepped up and we’ve gone to our investors. So some of our investors and we have thousands that invest in our multifamily properties actually sad. One of the reasons we want to continue in investing with you guys is because you’re involved in your community. You don’t know where people have come from. You don’t know what’s going on with them individually. And sometimes it might even be them. And so, you know, and so people are in different stages of their lives. And so one of the things I’ve found just by adopting this as an organization, as a company on a bigger picture, is that there are people that that will be as loyal as you can ever imagine, because you’ve adopted something that you believe in and you are unifying your company together. And I think it should be a year long process.

Adam Lowy:
Absolutely. And that’s, again, the beauty of move for hunger. This is something that’s happening year round. Yes. We’re talking about it today during the holidays, but we don’t want you to forget it, but that is during spring, summer and fall. Um, the need is there and there are opportunities to help people. They do not need to be hard. They do not need to be expensive, but everybody can do a little bit and have a huge impact together.

Ken McElroy:
That’s another good point. It doesn’t cost anything for them to go to the website and get the stuff sent to you. Right?

Adam Lowy:
Absolutely. Come, come check out the website, learn a little bit more about the work that we’re doing. Um, we’d love to share more and hopefully get you involved. Yeah.

Ken McElroy:
Great. Adam, what else can we do for you today? Thank you very much for your passion. It’s awesome. What you’re doing and congratulations on your continued success of starting. You know, it all starts with just one property and now you’ve got thousands and thousands and, and, uh, what an incredible opportunity you’re providing people. You’re changing lives. Thank you.

Adam Lowy:
Thank you. Thank you so much. Happy Thanksgiving. Yeah.

Danille:
Happy Thanksgiving to you and to all of our viewers, you know, tomorrow’s Thanksgiving. So

Ken McElroy:
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. And we’ll see you next week. We’ll see you next time.

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Ken McElroy has lived and breathed real estate for his entire adult life, learning from the ground up. He shares his insights and experiences on his podcast, “Real Estate Strategies with Ken McElroy,” and on his wildly popular YouTube channel. Ken is passionate about educating others so that they too can experience financial freedom through real estate investing.
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