Most people donate food during the holidays. This month, SEIU 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, members collected more than 1.5 tons of food. Combined with cash donations, it was enough to provide more than 7,300 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.”
By doing a small part, SEIU 521 members are making a difference.
“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.”