Grunthal, Manitoba -– Dave Plett’s family has handed out food hampers with the Grunthal Caring Hands Food Bank during the holidays for so long, he says he, “can’t remember if it’s been 14 or 15 years.”
Plett says it’s important to share this tradition with his kids to show them how important it is to support the community. Plett owns a dairy and grain farm in Kleefeld, and he nominated the Grunthal Caring Hands Food Bank for a grant through the Canada’s Farmers Grow Communities Program, sponsored by the Bayer Fund in 2020. Rob Warkentin, the board president, says they couldn’t have won something like that at a better time. A few years ago, they were only feeding 45 to 50 families a week, and since COVID-19 hit, that number has gone up to 70-75 families.
“It was one of those years where we were wondering how it all was going to work with the pandemic,” says Warkentin. “Our community has assured us there’s a place for us, and we’re very blessed.”
Warkentin has been volunteering on the board since its inception in 2012, and he says anytime they need something, like a freezer or supplies, they put out the call, and word of mouth takes care of the rest. Warkentin says he backed in his truck to their local grocer’s loading dock and filled it up with boxes of bananas, oranges, apples and celery thanks to the $2,500 from the Bayer Fund.
“When we get funding like this, we target non-perishable foods and try to find out if we have any parents with infants so we can buy specific formula for them,” says Warkentin. “Instead of being able to give someone something in a can, it’s nice to be able to share good food.”
Warkentin grew up on a dairy farm, and while he doesn’t know Plett personally, he says Plett’s story isn’t uncommon.
“Farmers want to share what they have with the community, and they recognize it’s important to teach their kids how to share their wealth,” he says. “Farming and food banks are a natural fit.”