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‘People are hungry’: Coaldale and Lethbridge agriculture industry supports Canadian Foodgrains Bank

Click to play video: 'Southern Alberta harvest raises money for Canadian charity fighting food insecurity' Southern Alberta harvest raises money for Canadian charity fighting food insecurity
WATCH ABOVE: Volunteers in the Lethbridge and Coaldale area took to their combines Friday morning to harvest a plentiful crop of barley. The crop will be sold to other locals, with proceeds going toward a global initiative that aims to end hunger. Eloise Therien has more on this event and how it looks amid the COVID-19 pandemic. – Aug 21, 2020

The 14th annual Coaldale-Lethbridge community harvest event for The Canadian Foodgrains Bank was celebrated a little differently amid COVID-19, but is still raising money for hunger-prevention efforts across the world.

The Canadian Foodgrains Bank, an organization that was formed in the 1980s, raises money through around 200 harvesting events each year in Canada.

Locally, barley is grown and sold to buyers, with proceeds going towards feeding and providing farm education to more than 30 countries around the world.

Read more: 2020 harvest begins in southern Alberta

A public BBQ is normally held on the day of harvest, but the group decided to err on the side of caution amid COVID-19 while still continuing the event.

“Rather than panic and have a reaction like shutting it down, we carried on with the project,” said volunteer Geroge Lohues. “We believe [that] more than ever people are hungry right now.”
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Although those who buy the barley–such as cattle producers–are under financial stress themselves, members of the organization say the support has continued.

“In spite of that, they have stepped up and [continued] buying the product,” said member Ed Donkersgoed. “Not only paying the market price, but in many cases, paying a premium as a donation.”

Read more: Harvest progresses in Saskatchewan, SaskPower urges caution around power lines

Since the charity’s inception, the government of Canada has leveraged donations on a four-to-one basis, meaning for every dollar raised through the events, the federal government donates $4.

This year, added funds have been allocated to providing supports in Lebanon, after its capital city Beirut suffered immense losses from an explosion caused by a suspected ammonium nitrate blast.

“We are able to help many people there as well,” said Alberta coordinator Andre Visscher. “Last week we fed over 6,000 people just in Beirut.”

In the Lethbridge area, the event typically garners around $150,000.

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