Red and green farm tractors rumbled throughout the community recently, picking up food for Farm Credit Canada’s Drive Away Hunger campaign and delivering the supplies to the food bank.
This is the 15th year Farm Credit Canada (FCC) has held this event across Canada. Since 2004, it has generated more than 50 million meals — or pounds of food — for Canadians struggling with food insecurity. The campaign brings together schools and partners to raise food and funds for community food banks.
Last year FCC collected more than 9.5 million meals for Canadian food banks. This year, in addition to the food, it will also contribute $100,000 to support school food programs.
Dozens of volunteers from FCC, Conexus Credit Union, Saskatchewan Agriculture, the Moose Jaw Warriors, and other organizations helped unload the trailers at the Moose Jaw & District Food Bank on Oct. 9.
Sonia Smith has been volunteering with the food bank for 20 years. Having helped organize food from FCC’s campaign since the beginning, she thought this year was phenomenal in the amount coming in.
“Every year it gets better and we get better organized,” she said, explaining that the food brought in on pallets is now in bins, compared to previous years when the bags were simply stacked on the floor.
This year the food bank received extra pumpkin boxes from a grocery store, Smith added, while it also purchased new shelves earlier in the year that allowed it to better organize its supplies.
Helping out with the Drive Away Hunger campaign is a good experience, said Lindsey Bunnell, a loans analyst with FCC. Since 12 schools — a record number — in Moose Jaw helped with this endeavour, many students couldn’t wait to load the trailers. They were also eager to see the tractors.
“Waking up this morning and it being so cold, we weren’t exactly looking forward to it, but then you get to the school and the kids are all excited,” Bunnell said. “And we had Morty the Moose join us at a couple of the schools, so that was great.”
Last year the FCC Drive Away Hunger Campaign collected more than 880 kilograms (5,500 pounds) of food in Moose Jaw, which equals roughly 5,500 meals.
This year, Sunningdale School collected the most out of all the schools, generating more than 1,200 pounds, or meals.
FCC had two tractors driving around throughout the day, each covering different sections of the city. Both machines made regular visits to the food bank to unload food collected. Food was also collected during the Moose Jaw Warriors game later that night.
“Sometimes national campaigns are just donated at a corporate level, but everything we collect in Moose Jaw today is staying at the Moose Jaw food bank, so it’s really special that way,” said Bunnell.
Receiving food from the Drive Away Hunger campaign is phenomenal, said Deann Little, development manager for the food bank.
“Our shelves are quite bare at this time of year. This really helps to get our shelves replenished (and) to get the hampers to their fully capacity that we like to see them,” she said.
While Little didn’t have official food totals yet, she thought more had been collected this year than last year. This meant more volunteers were being called in to sort and organize everything. Floor space had to be freed up quickly since at least 40 pallets of food were expected to be delivered on Nov. 1 as part of the Better Together Food Drive.
“It’s an all-hands-on-deck kind of day,” she added with a laugh.