Machinists join Hometeam in fight against hunger

SEATTLE — Volunteers with Machinists Union District Lodge 751 are once again preparing to do their part in the fight against hunger.

Food2012aMembers of the Machinists Volunteer Program — the community-service arm of the union — are set to begin collecting donations of food and cash for KING-TV‘s annual Hometeam Harvest food drive to benefit the Northwest Harvest food bank.

In addition, as many as 150 District 751 volunteers are expected to be on hand for the Dec. 7 food drive itself, hoping to load semi-trailers with donations of food dropped off by Channel 5 viewers from around Puget Sound.

The MVPs will collect food and cash at local lodge meetings during October and November. Members also can drop off donations of food or cash at any union hall in Puget Sound.

“Hunger is no game,” said Robley Evans, the MVP chairman. “We see it all too often, through our volunteer work at homeless shelters and at the Northwest Harvest warehouse in Kent.”

According to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 14.6 percent of Washington families — nearly 1 in 7 — struggles to put food on the table, and 6.1 percent of Washington families regularly go hungry.

Despite that, conservatives in Congress have targeted food stamps and other federal programs that provide even modest amounts of food, promising to cut the budget for them in half.

Northwest Harvest supplies food banks across Washington. Since 2008, the number of people visiting the food banks it supports has jumped 40 percent — from 500,000 a month to 700,000. Northwest Harvest now distributes 26 million pounds of food to those people — up more than 50 percent from 2008.

This will be the 11th year that District 751 volunteers will take part in KING-TV’s annual winter food drive.

Last year, more than 130 union members volunteered. The union’s local lodges and individual members came together to collect $2,300 in cash, plus more than 500 pounds of food. The Washington Machinists Council — the umbrella group for all IAM local and district lodges statewide — contributed another $1,000.

Fod2012b“Truly, the aerospace machinists union has become as much a part of Hometeam Harvest as anyone else,” said Betsy Roberson, the community relations manager for the TV station. “You’re the ones out there directing traffic and carrying those big bags of food from trunks to trucks.”

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

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