Students at Prince Albert’s Westview Public School will dig into a hot meal courtesy of Saskatchewan’s farmers on Thursday.
The school is one of six in Saskatchewan to receive a meal as part of a partnership between Farm and Food Care Saskatchewan and Agriculture in the Classroom Saskatchewan. The two groups banded together to provide snacks, activities and lunch as a way to help students and teachers learn more about how food is produced.
Clinton Monchuk, Executive Director of Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan, said the program helps them educate students, while also allowing farmers and ranchers to give back to the community.
“We do a lot of work with the different commodity groups and the different agri-businesses here in Saskatchewan on trying to engage the public, and we knew there was an opportunity to engage more with classrooms and kids,” Monchuk explained.
He said it’s a good way to provide meals to students who need them, while also making them more confident and knowledgeable about where their food comes from.
It is also a way to support the communities where farmers and ranchers get supplies and sell their produce.
“We know that we are a strong part of the Saskatchewan community and economy, but we want to make our presence just a little stronger and better known,” Monchuk said. “This is an opportunity to do so with school kids.
“One of the big things that we are seeing now is a lot of questions coming from people that don't have an influence from a farm or a ranch in the province, even though we are a strong part of the community. Any opportunity like this that we have we are going to take.”
Along with Westview, schools in Regina, Yorkton, Lloydminster and Saskatoon will receive a hot egg sandwich with bacon and cheese, along with a carton of milk, a granola bar and a beef jerky snack.
Lunch is only one part of the Meals from the Farm day. Farm & Food Care has prepared a series of online lessons to help people gain a basic understanding of some of the main sectors of agriculture in Saskatchewan and an online agriculture trivia contest for participating schools to test their farm knowledge and even win prizes for their classroom.
“Some of this filters back to the family where the packages and information gets back to the parents of the kids,” Monchuk explained. “I think it allows for better communication, better engagement with Saskatchewan youth.”
Monchuk, who in addition to his responsibilities with Farm & Food Care, is a grain and egg farmer from Lanigan, will be presenting a video tour of his egg barn and hosting a live question and answer session with participating schools on the morning of June 2.
Monchuk explained that the idea came from having support from the Saskatchewan Egg Producers they thought of using his egg farm as a tour.
“I will be doing a virtual tour of my farm and opening it up for anybody who is watching online,” he said. “It is primarily geared towards grade school kids, but anybody who is reading this article or wants to be a part of it can ask questions online and I can field them in real time.”
The event is led by Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan and presented by the Saskatchewan Egg Producers and Chicken Farmers of Saskatchewan.
Breakfast from the Farm is a collaboration with Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association, Canola Eat Well, Cargill, Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission, SaskOats, Grain Millers, SaskMilk, SaskPork, SaskFlax and Agriculture in the Classroom Saskatchewan.
Monchuk said in the first year of the event in 2020 there was support from half of those groups and it has grown this year.
“I think a lot of the producer organizations said, ‘you know what? I think this is something that we can get behind,’ and as a result of that, we can actually hit more students,” he explained.
That has enabled the event to almost double in size from reaching around 900 students last year to around 1,700 this year.
Monchuk added that Westview School principal Cheryl Arcand was eager to be part of it again this year.
“As long as we continue to have the sponsorship to do these things I think we are going to keep on doing them,” he said.
“Meals from the Farm is a wonderful hands-on opportunity for kids to investigate how farmers grow the foods we eat,” Arcand said in a press release.
“If consumers have questions we want to make sure we can find them answers,” Monchuk added.
Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald