Machinists Union sponsors drive to aid food bank

SEATLE — The union for Machinists at Boeing is conducting a food drive in April, to benefit the Puget Sound Labor Agency’s efforts to help feed unemployed workers and their families.

People can donate cash or non-perishable food at any union hall operated by Machinists Union District Lodge 751, in Auburn, Everett, Renton and Seattle.

All the food and money collected – including a $1,000 donation recently approved by the union’s district governing council — will go to benefit the Puget Sound Labor Agency food bank, which provides food to unemployed workers from King and Snohomish counties.

The agency reports that it is feeding 38 percent more people this year, compared to 2010.

“The need is really great this year,” said Susan Palmer, the union’s secretary/treasurer. “Unemployment is high, and many of the people who are working don’t earn enough to make ends meet. As a result, the food bank is running out of food almost every week.”

District 751’s Women’s Committee is spearheading the drive. Committee members say they’re particularly in need of canned food, whole-wheat pasta, oatmeal, baby food and baby formula.

During the annual April food drive, every dollar or every pound of food donated will be matched by a contribution from the Feinstein Foundation, a Rhode Island-based non-profit that’s dedicated to wiping out hunger. Last year, the foundation matched donations of $16,000 in cash and 8,000 pounds of food that was collected by Machinists, and members of other unions, to benefit the labor agency’s food bank.

Originally formed in 1935 to represent hourly workers at Boeing, Machinists District 751 now represents more than 26,500 working men and women at 44 employers across Washington, Oregon and California.  In 2010, District 751 members gave nearly 6,200 hours of volunteer community service and raised more than $276,000 for Guide Dogs of America, the union’s charity of choice.

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