Truckloads of food filled for Duluth's emergency food shelf

By KBJR News 1

October 7, 2013 Updated Oct 7, 2013 at 1:10 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- More than 800 union members gathered at the DECC in Duluth to fill up truckloads of food donations that will be delivered to Duluth's CHUM Emergency Food Shelf.

The donation came at just the right time.

October is National Hunger Action Month, prompting union volunteers from AFSCME to collect non-perishable food donations at their worksites throughout September.

"We see hunger in families, in particularly children and the elderly, up close and personal," said Dennis Frazier, an AFSCME Council 5 member.

That's why over 800 union members from AFSCME collected thousands of dollars worth of food donations to be delivered to the emergency food shelf in Duluth.

"A lot of hands working together make for an easy lift to do this matter," said Frazier.

Union members say that it warms their hearts to help those in need.

"If the food isn't there for people, we're going to have people going hungry. We should not be sending our children to school in the morning without a breakfast," said Chris St. Germaine, another AFSCME Council 5 member.

St. Germaine says that the recent budget cuts to the SNAP program will negatively affect many, making this event all the more necessary.

"We should be able to have food. There should be food on the table for our children. And with all of these cuts, that's not going to be able to happen," said St. Germaine.

She, along with other AFSCME members, say they fear what may happen if more families turn to food shelves because of the government shutdown.

"A lot of our money is federal monies. The longer this goes on there could be a ripple effect. We don't know until it actually happens," said Frazier.

"We've got infants that need to have this formula. And if the government is shutting down and they're saying we don't care about our citizens, that's wrong. That's extremely wrong," said St. Germaine.

However, the event doesn't only provide food for those in need, but it also helps to continue the work of the great county commissioner, Steve O'Neil, who recently passed.

"He worked a lot with homelessness and he worked a lot to work with people in need with CHUM," said Frazier.

Union members say that his work never went unrecognized, and that they are happy to carry on his legacy.

Since the recession began in 2007 the number of people who turn to food shelves in Minnesota has increased by 59%.

Elsa Robins