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Ryan Bakken, Forum Communications Co., Published November 22 2011

American Crystal Sugar workers start food pantry

DRAYTON, N.D. – The attached garage to the home of Lynn and Renae Fredrickson has become the local food shelf for locked-out American Crystal Sugar workers.

The latest donation of food arrived here Tuesday, loaded off an 18-wheeler that started its journey in the Twin Cities. The large semi – along with most of the food – was donated by members of the Teamsters Local 120 based there.

“We’ve certainly got the vehicle to do this,” said Donny Walz, a Teamsters official based in Fargo. “We help our union brothers and sisters when they need it and they help us. We’re one big, happy family.”

Locked-out families in Hillsboro, East Grand Forks, Crookston and Moorhead also benefited from the food deliveries in time for Thanksgiving.

Drayton factory worker Diane Adamski talked about the financial hardship of North Dakota-based workers who don’t receive unemployment. “You burn up your savings, cash in your life insurance, give up the bells and whistles and go back to the basics.”

The financial help with the food will help, but Adamski said the gesture was more important. “It tells us other people care and that we really aren’t alone,” she said.

The semi arrived in Grand Forks with 30,000 pounds of food and picked up more donations at the stop. Among the food stuffs were bags of C&H sugar, made from cane, which union members held while posing for photographs.

At the Fredricksons’ home, Thanksgiving staples were unloaded, as were toiletries, water, potatoes, boxes of macaroni and cheese, soup and potato chips. “There’s everything here except Spaghettios,” one volunteer noted.

Renae said the items will be sorted and divided evenly for the 110 families of locked-out Drayton factory workers. The last time food was donated, some late arrivers were shortchanged, she said.

Both Fredricksons have worked at the Drayton ACS plant for more than 30 years.

It’s hard to be out of work, Renae said, but the gifts of food, money and verbal support “have been overwhelming.”

And, Renae said, there will be one more benefit: “We’ll all be home with our families for Thanksgiving after all those years of working on that day.”


Ryan Bakken writes for the Grand Forks Herald