October 31st, 2020

Hutterite colonies major supporters of food banks


By Jensen, Randy on May 30, 2020.

Greg Bobinec

Lethbridge Herald

gbobinec@lethbridgeherald.com

As a way for Hutterite colonies to help surrounding communities, Samuel Wipf from the Miltow Colony near Warner sent a letter encouraging colonies across Alberta and Saskatchewan to support all food banks in their province during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since March 24, donations collected from colonies for Alberta food banks totalled $25,400, and for Saskatchewan food banks $11,250, which has or will be distributed in the coming weeks.

Danielle McIntyre of the Interfaith Food Bank in Lethbridge says the financial donation came as a surprise, but the generosity of colonies is a long-standing appreciative relationship.

“We always have tremendous support from our Hutterite colonies, and that is not unique to Lethbridge,” says McIntyre. “Hutterite colonies are generous by nature and usually do connect with this local food bank to donate produce and baked goods, or other surplus that they have, but with the COVID emergency, there were some colonies that called to help more, but we had already been working with Food Banks Canada to engage colonies more and build up those relationships with local food banks.”

Hutterite colonies across the country began calling to find out if their local food banks have space to accept donations of vegetables, and over 15,500 pounds of vegetables were donated. As Food Banks Canada has been working to improve refrigeration and freezer storage at many locations, they were happy to accept the fresh produce for at-risk community members.

McIntyre says two local colonies went above and beyond to make sure food bank clients were taken care of and fully stocked to help them through the pandemic.

“Here locally, we have received quite a bit of cash which is a really nice thing for us,” says McIntyre. “Blue Grass Colony stopped in, Rock Lake made a substantial donation through some of the grain they had sold. It is just a really nice thing to see that they aren’t just giving us what is left over, but taking the effort to make a special gift to help us with the COVID response.”

Through years of the supportive relationship between food banks and Hutterite colonies, McIntyre says many Canadians may not realize how much surrounding colonies support communities regularly and during a time of need.

“I don’t think that the average Canadian understands how generous our Hutterite colonies are. I think a lot of people view them as separate or off to themselves, but we are seeing the support on the food side. They are sewing bags and masks for frontline workers, they are giving blood and doing so much to support their surrounding communities,” says McIntyre.

Lethbridge Food Bank and Interfaith Food Bank say they are staying afloat during this tough time, but not all food banks can say the same. As food banks continuously work with community members in crisis, they are used to the demand, but have some fear towards what will happen when life opens up again.

“We are doing OK right now. Community food donations are down, but we have also been encouraging more financial support where people can donate safely at home and we can purchase what we need and we don’t have to touch it as much when sorting it,” says McIntyre. “We are keeping up, our concern isn’t getting through the crisis phase of this, but the recovery phase. We are a little bit nervous to see what will happen when the emergency financial benefit ends and how badly the economy will be damaged and some businesses not being able to reopen, but we are hoping it won’t be as bad as we originally forecasted.”

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