Food shelves, others offer help after immigration raid
Worthington, Minn. — (AP) - Families affected by this week's immigration raid at the Swift meatpacking plant in Worthington are turning to food shelves for help.
Supplies are on their way, but more are needed.
Manna Food Pantry at Westminster Presbyterian Church spent an extra $6,000 on food Wednesday after hearing from about 60 families in need, coordinator Gene Foth said in an e-mail. Demand is also up at Worthington Christian Church's food shelf.
A truck's worth of provisions arrived at Manna Thursday after Comunidad Cristiana Church of Worthington and the Rev. Hector Andrade organized with sister churches in the Twin Cities.
"We've been told that if there's need, they'd send down one truckload a week," said LeRoy Enninga, a member of Manna's board who helped unload the food.
Kathryn Sharpe and William Martinez, both from the Twin Cities-based Minnesota Immigration Rights Action Coalition, delivered mostly perishable food from the Emergency Food Shelf Network in the metro area. Canned goods will come later.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested almost 1,300 people at Swift & Co. meat processing plants in six states Tuesday, including 230 arrested in Worthington. Those who work with immigrants said the arrests created fear and distrust in the community; some hid in their homes.
Manna relaxed some of its usual rules after fearful families sent others to ask for help on their behalf.
"Normally, we need to have a signature and home address to give out food," Enninga said. "But I guess in an emergency situation such as this, we're willing to bend that a little bit, just to serve those who are in need."
Help was being organized near and far.
A few people stopped by Manna with cash donations; others called to offer help, Foth said. Enninga said money helps the most because it gives the food shelf flexibility.
The Chicano Latino Affairs Council of St. Paul is urging Twin Cities residents to give cash, diapers, infant formula and nonperishable food to Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in St. Paul to help immigrant families in Worthington. That organization is working with the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce, which is also accepting aid directly.
Mike Cumiskey, the city's director of public safety, was helping track down those in federal custody. He said people can call him without worrying about their own legal status.
"We're not asking any questions about status; we're just providing information," Cumiskey said. "We can be a liaison for ICE in trying to get that information for them."
Worthington Mayor Alan Oberloh was working with state Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, to help compile a list of contacts who could help with community needs and information. The Nobles County Integration Collaborative and Nobles County Family Services were also taking calls.
U.S. Rep.-elect Tim Walz said he will visit Worthington next week to meet with local leaders about the raid and its fallout.
"This puts an incredible burden out on the community," Walz said. "What it does is it causes a lot of animosity among all different people in the community, and that's Congress' job to help alleviate that."
(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)