HUNTINGTON PARK — After several reprieves, the Steelworkers Oldtimers Foundation was evicted last week from the union hall where it had run a food bank for the poor for the last four years.
The food bank, which was operated with federal funds and private donations, distributed from 7,000 to 10,000 bags of groceries a month to out-of-work former steelworkers, needy people and other food pantries.
The last distribution was made Tuesday after the foundation was told by the International Steelworkers Union, which owns the building at 6004 Maywood Ave., to close the doors by April 30, according to George Cole, foundation director.
Service Will Continue
"We'll continue to service the community. We'll just have to find new ways to distribute," Cole said.
Steelworkers Union officials notified the food bank a year ago that it had to vacate the building because it was being sold to a union local in Maywood, said Rito Valencia, a union spokesman. The food bank was given several reprieves before being told to be out of the building before May 1, Valencia said.
The building has been sold to Steelworkers Local 1981 in Maywood, which needs the property, said Valencia, local district director.
The decision to sell was made by the national union, Valencia said. The hall was formerly occupied by Local 1845, which is now defunct. Former union members used to work at the Bethlehem Steel plant in Vernon before it closed in December, 1982.
Huntington Park officials were unsuccessful in their attempts to save the building for the food bank, Mayor Tom Jackson said. The city's redevelopment agency attorney approached the union about two weeks ago to see if a deal could be worked out, allowing the agency to negotiate a sale of the property to the food bank, Jackson said.
"We were told then that the plan was to sell the building to another group and that the food bank had to leave," Jackson said. "We would like to see the food bank stay in the building because it is in a convenient location."
Meanwhile, Cole said the United Auto Workers Union has given the foundation the use of a small office and telephone in Bell to conduct its business.
"We might start using the parks to deliver food. We have a couple of trucks we might use," Cole said.
"Maybe we'll start delivering from the back end of a truck," added Karen Adam, foundation co-director.