Moose Jaw sets the bar high

Dustin Gill
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It takes more than a tractor to make a food drive successful. Here volunteers load up a trailer at Carghill Limited, among them are FCC President and CEO Greg Stewart and Executive Director of Food Bank Saskatchewan Bill Hall. 

It was a bustling day in the Friendly City Tuesday as the FCC’s Drive Away Hunger food drive got underway in Moose Jaw.

Not your typical food drive, the Farm Credit Canada (FCC) knows how to draw attention to a cause — by driving farm tractors and trailers around town collecting large amounts of food and donations.

Nationwide, the FCC hopes to raise more than one million pounds of food and $500,000. Donations raised in a community, however, stay in that community and the community of Moose Jaw stepped up in a big way to give the local food bank thousands of pounds of food and dollars.

At the Moose Jaw Food Bank, manager Terri Smith is left with the task of finding space for the surge of donations that the FCC drive brought in. In an interview Tuesday morning Smith said she had no idea how much food to expect.

“I know it’s going to be on a larger scale, so we’re just trying to make as much room as possible so we can sort it,” said Smith, adding that the food bank will be closed today just to make sure staff have the time they need to organize all of the food.

Smith said that the abundance of donations that the Drive Away Hunger campaign brought in puts the food bank in a unique position because it’s so close to the Better Together food drive, which also brings in huge amounts of food.

“Our shelves are quite low, because we usually anticipate the Better Together food drive as well,” said Smith. “It is coming up two weeks after this drive, so we need to clear out more space so we can have pallets brought in two weeks from now.”

Smith says that finding space will be a challenge and that the surplus of food can be “a little scary and exciting all at the same time, but we’ll get through it.”

Smith doesn’t mind doing a little extra hard work for a great cause. “It just shocks me how giving Moose Jaw is. We’re not government subsidized whatsoever, so any help from anybody in the community is just great; whether it be monetary donations, whether it be food donations, we gladly accept it all and we really appreciate it.”

Of the almost 50 stops that the tractors made on Tuesday, many of them were schools. At Sacred Heart elementary school, program supervisor of community development, Lori Lancaster, said that the children did an excellent job collecting food over the past two weeks.

“Everybody has been very good about bringing in what they can, it’s been wonderful.”

Lancaster said the school encouraged the children in multiple ways to do their best to help others.

“We’ve spoken about it in assembly, we sent notes home, we sent the collection bags home, and then there were reminders within the classroom by the teachers talking about the importance. And then our principal would give little reminders when he was doing morning announcements; he’d remind people how important it was.

“I’m really proud of our students,” said Lancaster. “They’ve shown a lot of leadership by remembering and participating, and I think they’ve been quite excited to do this for the community.”

Schools play a huge role in local food drives and so do local businesses.

Norma Clarke, business manager at Robertson Implements, is just one of many members of the Moose Jaw business community who helped make the Drive Away Hunger food drive a great success.

See ‘FOOD DRIVE’ on Page 2

“Our business supplied a tractor and trailer for them to drive around and pick up food. And then we had food bags and envelopes on our front counters for customers to pick up and take home,” said Clarke of Robertson Implements’ efforts to contribute to the cause.

“It’s a great cause and we’re very happy to support it.”

One of the stops along the tractor drive was at Carghill Limited where the entire crew of FCC volunteers was treated to a barbecue lunch, as well as a personal thank you from FCC president and CEO Greg Stewart who spent the day hauling food and loading tractors with the rest of the volunteers.

“It’s lots of fun to be involved in and it feels pretty good to do our little bit to help,” said Stewart in an interview after the barbecue. Stewart says that as president of FCC, he feels a responsibility to give back to the communities it does business in, and the takes great satisfaction in the FCC’s ability to help others.

“There’s great people everywhere and you just need to give them a chance,” said Stewart. “We’re fortunate enough to be able give people a chance to give back to their communities, and when you give them that space and allow them to do it, they can do great things.”

Stewart said that often it’s easy for companies to write a check to give to a cause, but that to make lasting impressions it’s best to really get behind a cause and do the good work face-to-face in the communities.

“We get the chance to teach young kids that giving back to their community at nine or 10 years old is a great thing to do. What’s better than that? You’re changing lives by giving people a helping hand who need it, and then also hopefully changing people’s lives by helping them become better community citizens as they go forward for the rest of their lives.”

The FCC Drive Away Hunger food drive wrapped-up at the Moose Jaw Warriors’ game Tuesday evening where the final tally was announced.

A total of 15,533 pounds of food, as well as $16,614 in monetary donations, was collected in Moose Jaw on Tuesday.

Organizations: Farm Credit Canada, Moose Jaw Food Bank, Sacred Heart elementary school Robertson Implements

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Friendly

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