With hunger and demand for food bank services reaching record levels, there is reason for cheer as local producers and agribusiness leaders have collaborated to launch Farm2Kitchen, an initiative that will use home grown oats to feed families in need. Kickstarted with a donation of 67,000 bags of oats—valued at over $300,000—Farm2Kitchen connects local producers to kitchen tables around the province ensuring that oatmeal will warm hearts and stomachs.
Neighbours helping neighbours
Prairie producers have always fed the world. Their crops are critical inputs for food manufacturers, grocery stores and kitchen tables. Saskatchewan farmers understand that the heartbeat of home is caring for each other. Sometimes this means helping a neighbour with harvest or putting food on the table for a family in need. For local producer Roy Klym and his family, it also means using what you have at your disposal to enact change. “We as a family believe in field to fork. By partnering with other parts of the production change right here at home, we can take our modest donation and multiple the value many times over,” says Klym.
Food doesn’t come from a grocery store. It comes from a farmer, and the Klym family stepped up with an initial donation of 42 metric tonnes. The Klyms’ company, Condie Seeds, will clean the oats and Regina-based Avena Foods will mill and process the oats making them ready to eat. From there, local flax company CanMar Foods will package and bag the oats, and the Regina Food Bank will distribute them across Southern Saskatchewan. All partners are donating their services.
For Avena Foods CEO Gord Flatten, supporting the initiative is part of being a good neighbour. “Avena Foods partners every day with farmers and other food processors and packagers to provide safe, nutritious food around
the world. We are happy to help feed local Saskatchewan and Manitoba families through the food bank network.”
Sharing the bounty
Currently, Saskatchewan is experiencing record food insecurity. Tens of thousands of families, and far too many children and elderly simply go without enough food. The good news is the bounty that feeds the world is helping to change lives here at home.
Farm2Kitchen started with an initial donation, but the program has ambitious aspirations. Avena Foods is recruiting producers in their network to ensure that every family, school and community organization in need receives oats. “It is a win-win for the Regina Food Bank. We can offer the producers a tax receipt, while providing the over 10,000 people we feed each month with healthy home-grown food. This showcases the best of prairie creativity and generosity, and we are so very grateful,” says David Froh, Regina Food Bank’s vice president, community.
Lead by example
Roy Klym believes that other producers will follow his family’s example. “The producers I know are community minded people, and when they see a need in their community, they will stand tall to meet that need. I am sure we will see a great uptick to support the program,” he says. Moreover, Klym believes the connection between farm and city is more important than ever. “I hope this tightens the connection between city and rural. This crop that you see in the country could be on your table next month once it matures and is processed right here at home in Saskatchewan. Hopefully it gives both sides, the producers, and the community, respect for each other.”
Farm2Kitchen illustrates that there is no shortage of food in our province. All we need is creative and community minded partners like the Klym Family, Avena Foods and CanMar Foods to feed our neighbors.
For more information, visit reginafoodbank.ca.