By CARL GREEN
Metro-East Labor leaders had high hopes when they launched a campaign in late April to provide on-the-go foods for overworked health workers who don't have time for meals. But they still were flabbergasted by the great response they have received.
In its first week, the "Snacks to Go – to Fight COVID-19" project raised more than $10,000, and its organizers were beginning to deliver the food items to hospital workers this week.
B. Dean Webb, president of the Greater Madison County Federation of Labor, who came up with the idea, said they hadn't expected to raise so much money so quickly, but he was also expecting more donations to come in this week.
"Man, that's a lot of stuff," he said, gazing over a collection of the food, both donated and purchased, at the East Alton Machinists' Hall on Friday. "This is awesome. We're pretty happy with the results right now."
They were organizing deliveries, to have begun Monday, at most of the region's hospitals. Webb said his original thought was to just have a friend drop them off from her car. "Apparently a car isn't going to be enough," he said. "It has definitely been a team effort."
That team also includes the United Way Labor Liaisons, the Southwestern Illinois Building & Construction Trades Council and the Southwestern Illinois Central Labor Council.
The health-care centers that were expected to receive the first deliveries included:
- St. Elizabeth's Hospital, O'Fallon.
- Belleville Memorial Hospital.
- St. Anthony's Health Center, Alton.
- Anderson Hospital, Maryville.
- Jersey Community Hospital, Jerseyville.
- Gateway Regional Medical Center, Granite City.
- Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis.
- Alton Memorial Hospital.
- Touchette Regional Hospital, Centreville.
Scot Luchtefeld, president of the Central Labor Council, was leading a group that was heading to a Diebergs store last Friday night to do some serious shopping.
"It's better than we hoped," Luchtefeld said. "There are great things happening in the Labor Movement."
He credited UFCW Local 881 Secretary-Treasurer and International Vice President Paul Schafer and Local 881 business reps Mike Roberts and Jeff Collier for negotiating at-cost arrangements with Dierbergs and Schnucks.
STILL TIME TO GIVE
It's not too late to contribute to the project, either. Much of the money has been raised on a Go Fund Me page at this address: gofundme.com/f/afl-cio-snacks-to-goto-fight-covid-19.
The website collects a fee when you donate, so don't be surprised by that.
Donations may also be mailed to:
Greater Madison County Federation of Labor Defense Fund, 161 N. Shamrock St., East Alton IL 62024, or to Southwestern IL Central Labor Council Workers Relief Fund. P.O. Box 8091, Belleville IL 62222.
For either, indicate on the check and envelope they are for "Snacks to Go." The only fee is a stamp.
The groups also were holding collection points for food or monetary donations on Tuesdays and Thursdays, April 28, 30 and May 5 and 7, at both Machinists Lodge 660, 161 N. Shamrock St., East Alton, and Laborers Local 459 Hall, 100 N. 17th St., Belleville. They had not decided whether to continue with those beyond May 7.
"It has definitely been a team effort," Webb said. "It could go on a month or for as long as it's needed."
(An updated version of this story will appear in the May 14, 2020 print edition of the Labor Tribune.)