521 members in Region 2, five other counties collect 1.5 tons of food to help fill summer shortages

For immediate release
May 26, 2011

Contact:
Jerry Jimenez, SEIU Local 521, (408) 678-3391
Danny Keith, Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz County, (831) 722-7110 x217
Leslie Sunny, Food Bank for Monterey County, (831) 758-1523

Children face malnourishment during summer months, SEIU 521 members collect 1.5 tons of food to help fill the need

‘Hunger doesn’t take a vacation’

SALINAS AND SANTA CRUZ, Calif. – Most people donate food during the holidays. This month, SEIU 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 members collected more than 1.5 tons of food. Combined with cash donations, it was enough to provide more than 7,000 meals to children, based on Second Harvest Food Bank calculations.

“Hunger doesn’t take a vacation,” said Leslie Sunny, Executive Director of Food Bank for Monterey County. “Most of us have gone through our holiday food. However, in the summer we have a lot of children who need food because they’re not getting those free meals at school.”

It’s the same story throughout California.

“As we move into summer, this is our ‘food for children’ time of year,” said Danny Keith, Chief Development Officer for Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Cruz County. “Because kids that were getting support in public school systems will not have as many programs and services available to them.”

Public employees who provide direct services to the community have first-hand knowledge of the strong need for food during the summer months.

At a time when CEO’s are enjoying unprecedented pay packages of up to $84.5 million, SEIU 521 members teamed up with local food banks by launching “Food for All,” a food drive that spanned Northern California and the Central Valley. Members placed 65 bins at their worksites in 15 different cities, from Bakersfield to San Jose.

“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 Vicki Rodriguez, Vice-President of SEIU Local 521 Santa Cruz County Chapter. “We decided that it was imperative that we did something for the community.”

“The food bank needs to be replenished,” said Peggy Harris, Principal Office Assistant for Monterey County. “And working with the public on a daily basis, we see how great the need is. We’re trying to pull together as a community, to help the community and be part of the community.”

“Food for All” is wrapping up this week and final donations are being tabulated.

“During the summer, food donations are critical,” Sunny said. “So we’re incredibly grateful that SEIU 521 has taken on this task and has taken it on now.”

See a video of the “Food for All”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWc_QoiPIc0

See photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/seiu521/sets/72157626681737569/show/

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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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