With hunger and demand for food bank services reaching record levels, Saskatchewan food producers are warming hearts and stomachs with new program, Farm2Kitchen. Farm2Kitchen will use home grown oats to feed those in our community who live with food insecurity, thanks to a partnership with prairie food producers, agribusiness leaders, and Regina Food Bank.
Kickstarted with a donation of 67,000 bags of oats, valued at over $300,000, from RoLo Farms Ltd. – helmed by Roy Klym, Farm2Kitchen connects local producers to kitchen tables around the province ensuring that oatmeal will be an option in food insecure households.
For local producer, 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 chain right here at home, we can take our modest donation and multiple the value many times over”, said 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 Seed, 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.
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 neighbor with harvest or putting food on the table for a family in need.
All partners are donating their services. For Gord Flaten, CEO for Avena Foods, supporting this is part of being a good neighbor, “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.”
Currently, Saskatchewan is experiencing record food insecurity. Tens of thousands of families, and far too many children and elderly 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 according to David Froh, Vice-President – Community, for 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,” said Froh.
Klym believes that other producers will follow his family’s example adding, “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.” 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.”
For Klym and his family, there is immense pride for two reasons, “A pride in knowing something that our farm has produced will end up helping someone in need, and in our family, because they have supported this investment right from its conception.”
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.