Union peanut butter drive nets a ton of nutrition

TACOMA — Underprivileged children across Pierce County are eating more nutritious lunches this summer thanks to the efforts of volunteers from Machinists Union District Lodge 751.

PeanutbutterLabelsUnion members donated well over a ton of peanut butter this spring to a drive coordinated by the Pierce County Central Labor Council.

District 751 members contributed 1,690 jars of peanut butter with an estimated weight of 2,696 pounds — or roughly 1.3 tons. That represented roughly 33 percent of all the peanut butter collected by the 35 unions affiliated with council in Pierce County. The majority of it was Jif and Adams brand peanut butters which are made by union workers in Ohio.

“We tripled our donations from last year and made a real difference for a lot of hungry families,” said David Henry, who is one of District 751’s representatives to the Pierce County labor council.

Henry singled out the wing lay-down team at the Boeing plant in Renton for its contribution. Union Steward Terry Myette collected 398 jars and $210 cash from Machinists working there. He also thanked Michael Centoni, a manager at the South Hill Safeway store in Puyallup, who allowed Henry to buy $300 worth of peanut butter at a sale price, even though the sale had ended, which stretched the union’s cash contributions even farther.

All the peanut butter collected by the Pierce County unions — 5,112 jars of it weighing 8,156 pounds — was given to the Emergency Food Network in Pierce County. Because peanut butter is a source of protein many children enjoy, the group planned to keep the peanut butter in storage until summertime, when school is out and low-income children no longer have access to school lunches.

Originally formed in 1935 to represent hourly workers at Boeing, District Lodge 751 of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers now represents more than 33,000 working men and women at 49 employers across Washington, Oregon and California. In 2012, members of the Machinists Volunteer Program at District 751 donated more than 10,500 hours to community service, while other volunteers raised $299,000 for Guide Dogs of America, the union’s charity of choice.

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