Peanut butter drive: Union plans to spread the love

PeanutbutterLabelsSEATTLE — Members of Machinists Union District Lodge 751 will once again compete this year to see which group can help ease hunger for the most people

The union will take part in two annual peanut butter drives sponsored by the central labor councils in Pierce and Snohomish counties.

The drives start this month, and will continue through May 10. Donations can be brought to any IAM 751 union hall in Puget Sound, or to monthly local lodge meetings at the Seattle Union Hall.

Peanut butter collected at the Auburn, Renton and Seattle union halls will go to the Pierce County Central Labor Council, which will pool all the peanut butter collected by unions in Pierce County and give it to the Emergency Food Network, which supplies 60 food banks in the greater Tacoma area.

Peanut butter collected at the Everett Union Hall will be contributed to the Snohomish County Labor Council’s third annual peanut butter drive, which benefits Volunteers of America’s Everett Food Bank.

The group of Machinists who collect the most peanut butter will get “bragging rights, and the knowledge they are helping feed hungry children in their community this summer,” said Terri Myette, who is one of the focals for the District 751 effort.

paul richard peanut butterLast year, Everett Machinists won those honors, collecting nearly 1,400 pounds of peanut butter. Union members collected another 415 pounds for the Pierce County effort.

This will be the sixth consecutive year that District 751 has taken part in peanut butter drives sponsored by the Pierce and Snohomish county labor councils. Over the years, IAM 751 members have donated nearly 6,700 pounds of peanut butter – more than 3.3 tons.

The need continues to be great, said Myette, a union steward who works for the Boeing Co. and serves as a delegate to the Pierce County Labor Council.

“Sadly, one out of every six people in Pierce County relies on food banks for at least some part of their family’s meals each week,” she said. “Most of these people have jobs, but they aren’t paid enough to support themselves or their families.”

Peanut butter is an excellent source of protein with a good shelf life, Myette said. It’s also something that most children like, which makes it especially important for food banks in summer time, when children from low-income families no longer get free or reduced-price lunches at school.

Organizers encourage union members to buy union-made peanut butter brands like Jif or Adam’s, and to buy it whenever possible from unionized grocery stores, including Albertson’s, Fred Meyer, Haggen’s, PCC, QFC, Safeway or Thriftway.

However, all donations will be accepted, said Myette. “Hungry children don’t pay attention to labels.”

“Our union is committed to making life better for low-income working people in our communities,” said IAM 751 Business Rep Jason Redrup, who is the president of the Snohomish County Labor Council. “Things like the peanut butter drive are something all of us can do to help meet the immediate needs of hungry families in all of our communities.”

Originally formed in 1935 by 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 52 employers across Washington and California.

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