By Martin Charlton Communications
Through their work, the road builders of Saskatchewan have helped deliver people to work, school, medical appointments and sporting events.
Now, that same group is helping to feed the people of the province.
The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent closures of businesses has caused financial strain on thousands. As a result, food banks across Saskatchewan have experienced unprecedented visitors, many of them first-time users.
In early June, several Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Association members donated to the Food Banks of Saskatchewan Feeding Saskatchewan Together Campaign. Nutrien, the Saskatchewan Construction Association, Saskatchewan Industrial and Mining Suppliers Association and Merit Contractors also donated.
Kelly Panteluk Construction took the lead with a $100,000 donation. Other members quickly followed with monetary donations of their own.
Genco Asphalt ($1,000), SaskCon Repair Services ($1,000), Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers ($5,000), DJ Miller & Sons Construction ($5,000), Shaw Earth Moving ($5,000), Nemanishen Construction ($1,000), C. Duncan Construction ($1,000) and Carmacks Enterprises ($7,500) also donated.
As of mid-June, more than $300,000 had been raised.
“Food is one of the fundamental things that any person or any family needs access to,” explained Mary Panteluk of Kelly Panteluk Construction. “When we had that discussion as a family about getting involved, it wasn’t necessarily a decision of whether we could contribute, but rather what we could contribute and how we could make a broader movement with the associations.”
After the internal family decision to donate, Panteluk approached the partnering associations to have them spread the word to their respective members.
Having that reach across all corners of the province was important to Panteluk, who, like many other companies, has sent crews to job sites in nearly every community.
“Saskatchewan has been our home – where we’ve lived and worked – for generations,” she said. “We have been fortunate to continue working during these extraordinary times and look at this as one way we can help take care of each other to support those who are struggling. Together we are building today for tomorrow.”
The demand for food at local food banks has increased anywhere from five to 60 per cent. Food hamper distribution in Regina is up more than 60 per cent, with more than 450 hampers delivered each day. Many of the visitors to the Regina Food Bank are first-time customers.
The Battlefords District Food and Resource Centre indicates that 24 per cent of the families it serves have never used food bank before the coronavirus.
Visitors to the Melfort Food Bank has risen 10 per cent.
The cost to supply food to those in need across Saskatchewan is approximately $1 million a month. And roughly 40 per cent of distributed food supplies go to children.
“The support we are seeing from organizations and individuals across the province is remarkable and will make an incredible impact on those that we serve,” said Laurie O’Connor, executive director of Food Banks of Saskatchewan.
“The members of the Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Association are the builders of this province. They believe in supporting our local communities and charities any way they can,” said Shantel Lipp, SHCA president. “Over the years, the contributions of our members has ensured millions of dollars go back into our local communities, through monetary donations, building local football fields, clearing ice at a local rink, digging foundations for Habitat for Humanity homes, supporting local community sports teams and the like.
“This campaign was just another way these good folks wanted to give back to so many people who are currently struggling across the province. It’s an incredible point of pride