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KCK food pantry helps striking GM workers

Posted: 5:45 PM, Oct 02, 2019
Updated: 2019-10-02 22:25:58-04
Reola Grant Center for Family Life Development

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Janice Witt and the team at the Reola Grant Center for Family Life Development have their hearts focused on helping General Motors workers on strike.

Wednesday was the 17th day workers at the Fairfax Assembly plant in Kansas City, Kansas, have not received full pay.

"I had 20 families in here yesterday. I was in here literally all day," said Witt, the founder of Reola Grant Center, a small food pantry and resource center.

The center sends families home with boxes of food at a time.

"Are they proud? Yes, they are,” Witt said. “Why? Because they are making great money, and for them to have to stand up and beg for food is huge.”

But the help is more like a pat on the back when no one is watching or a hand squeeze that conveys everything will be OK. The center is committed to helping everyone, from union workers to mothers to veterans, and anyone can set up an appointment.

The center is located behind Ussery Auto Body Repair near 51st Street and Leavenworth Road. It’s a location that allows for some privacy, Witt said.

"We believe in union. We believe in the community standing up for each other for what is fair," she said.

Workers are now receiving strike pay, which is $250 per week — much less than they receive on normal paychecks.

Donations have poured in from the community and places such as Harvesters and Happy Bottoms.

"A lot of our members have not ever been in a strike,” said Clarence Brown, president of the United Auto Workers Local 31. “A lot of our members have never really experienced solidarity like they are now.”

The UAW is storing items in their pantry in case the strike continues for much longer.