Giving thanks to local ag community

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Municipal officials, members of the Kent Federation of Agriculture and local food banks gathered to celebrate Canada’s Agricultural Day Feb. 11.

Ag producers shared their bounty and municipal officials and local food bank organizers shared their praise in return on Canada’s Agricultural Day Feb. 11.

Members of the Kent Federation of Agriculture (KFA) dropped off a variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as canned goods and some pork and beef to the Salvation Army church on Orangewood Boulevard in Chatham to be shared by the Outreach for Hunger and Salvation Army food banks.

Mary Anne Udvari, a KFA member and organizer of the event, said the support from the agricultural sector never ceases to amaze her.

“I can’t believe the giving nature of this community,” she said. “You really don’t have to ask twice.”

Jay Cunningham, president of the KFA, said the association’s members are so willing to help others that it’s basically a matter of picking up the telephone.

“This is a great example of what we do as ag producers,” he said. “We’re a fairly giving group. You can see what a few phone calls can do.”

Brenda LeClair of Outreach for Hunger said the KFA’s donations are of products in great demand.

“Families appreciate fresh fruit, vegetables and quality meat products,” she said. “You have really made a difference for people in the community over the years. You are a blessing to all of us.”

Salvation Army’s Capt. Stephen Holland said the donations were greatly appreciated.

“You are giving nutrition to people who really need it,” he told those gathered at the event. “This really means a lot to us. It’s wonderful how the community comes together.”

The gathering by KFA members and donations to the local food banks have become an annual tradition of sorts. Udvari said in the past, the KFA has celebrated Food Freedom Day, the date in the year when a typical Canadian family has earned enough income to feed itself for the year, but opted instead to celebrate Canada Ag Day. This year, Food Freedom Day fell on Feb. 8, she said, only a few days ahead of Canada Ag Day.

Canada’s Agriculture Day is to celebrate the business of Canadian Agriculture. KFA officials said it is an opportunity for producers to share their pride and help consumers draw a closer connection to where their food comes from and the people who produce it.

Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Canniff said the local agricultural sector is a crucial part of the local economy.

“Agriculture is the premier industry in Chatham-Kent. Every time we sit down and eat, it’s because of what a farmer has provided for us,” he said.

Canniff added local ag producers, like everyone else in C-K, step up to help those in need.

“What a giving community we live in,” he said, and referred to figures supplied by the United Way. “Giving per capita, we rank No. 2 in the country.”

Along with local farmers, 32 individuals and organizations donated to help celebrate Ag Day.

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