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05/13/09 8:10 PM ET

Mariners pitch in to alleviate hunger

Volunteers to accept non-perishable food on Saturday

ARLINGTON -- The Mariners organization is pitching in to help feed the growing number of children affected by the recession.

With layoffs mounting in Washington state, the demand for safety-net programs, such as food for children living in poverty, has increased dramatically. To lend a helping hand, the Mariners, Bonneville Broadcasting and Northwest Harvest are teaming up this Saturday to help fill the pantry for what is expected to be a particularly rough summer for struggling families.

Prior to the Mariners' 7:10 p.m. PT game against the Red Sox at Safeco Field, volunteers will be located outside the gates to accept donations of cash and non-perishable food items starting at 5 p.m. and continuing until around 7:30 p.m.

Northwest Harvest is Washington's only statewide hunger-relief agency. It secures more than 18 million pounds of food for distribution to nearly 300 member food banks and meal programs and operates the Cherry Street Food Bank in downtown Seattle. With school soon to let out, access to free and reduced-cost meals for children in poverty becomes more difficult. Northwest Harvest tries to pick up the slack through its statewide distribution centers.

It is estimated that 16 percent of the children in Washington live below the federal poverty level. Over the next year, an additional 40,000 children in Washington are expected to join their ranks.

Preferred donations to Northwest Harvest include canned vegetables and fruit, baby food and formula, dried pasta, macaroni and cheese, peanut butter, canned meats (such as chicken or tuna), dry cereal, canned chili, soups and stews, and canned or shelf-stable milk.  Cash donations are also accepted. For more information about Northwest Harvest, or to donate, call 206-625-0755 or log onto www.northwestharvest.org.

Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.