521 members in Kern, five other counties collect 1.5 tons of food

For immediate release
May 26, 2011

Contact: James Geluso – (661) 321-4163

SEIU members collect 1.5 tons of food donation for food banks

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – Donations to food banks typically peak during the holidays. This month, SEIU Local 521 members launched a localwide food drive when families really need a helping hand – summer vacation.

It makes sense. When school is out, children who depend on school lunches for sustenance often face malnourishment during the summer months.

In just three weeks, SEIU 521 members collected 3,200 pounds of food. Combined with more than $2,000 in cash donations, the “Food for All” campaign raised enough to provide more than 7,000 meals to children and families across a half-dozen counties, from Kern to San Mateo.

“Summer is a difficult time for many local families who rely on free or reduced-price lunches to help feed their children during the school year,” said Ben Coyle, outreach specialist for the Community Action Partnership of Kern. “We deeply appreciate SEIU Local 521’s generous donations of food at a time when the need is greatest.”

At a time when California’s unemployment rate remains in the double digits and working families continue struggling with foreclosures, SEIU 521’s first-ever union-wide canned food drive resonated with its public-service members who wanted to help out the communities in which they live. From public hospitals to social service offices, workers signed up online to “adopt” the bins and spread the buzz among co-workers.

“We realized that there are members of the community who are suffering right now because they haven’t got enough money to feed their families,” said Wanda Wallace, a social service supervisor for Kern County and member of SEIU Local 521’s Executive Board, who spearheaded the effort in Kern County. “We decided that it was imperative that we did something for the community.”

“Food for All,” spanning 15 cities and 65 worksites, is wrapping up this week and final donations are being tabulated.

Video highlights of the food drive can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWc_QoiPIc0

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The Service Employees International Union is an organization of 2.1 million members united by the belief in the dignity and worth of workers and the services they provide. SEIU is dedicated to improving the lives of workers and their families and creating a more just and humane society. For more information, visit www.seiu521.org.

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