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Grunthal auction hopes to help wrangle hunger

Dozens braved frigid deep freeze to help fight hunger during Manitoba’s first charity cattle auction

sv grunthal foodgrains_opt.jpegGrunthal

It’s not every day that a busy cattle auction takes a moment to pause and consider the effects of hunger in far-flung places like Syria, but that’s exactly what happened at the Grunthal Auction Mart earlier this month.

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The Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB) held its first-ever fundraising cattle auction in the province, with all the proceeds going to the organization’s food assistance programs.

The response was strong. Seventeen animals were donated to the auction by 13 people and businesses. The sale netted $16,380 and those funds are matched on a four-to-one ratio by the federal government.

“We didn’t know what to expect because this is the first one we’ve had here in Manitoba, so we’re very delighted with the number of animals that were donated… and the amount that was raised,” said John Longhurst, director of public engagement for the organization, which works to end world hunger.

Money raised by the organization is used to buy food from producers in areas affected by hunger, so that local economies can benefit as well.

“We don’t know exactly where it will be used, because the projects come in throughout the year,” Longhurst said. “But right now, one of the most important emergencies we’re responding to is in Syria, where over nine million people are in need of assistance of some kind, so some of it could potentially go there.”

Corny Paetkau of Lowe Farm near Morris brought three generations of his family to the auction and also donated a top bull, which went on to fetch more than $2,000 for the cause.

“We run a grain farm with a few cattle, and we’ve been involved with Canadian Foodgrains Bank since its inception 30 years ago,” Paetkau said. “We were part of loading rail cars to send overseas at that time, and now my whole family is involved.”

CFGB has held similar events in Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, but wanted to expand the cattle sales into Manitoba where the organization is based. The province is also home to dozens of community growing projects.

Harold Unrau, manager of the Grunthal Auction Mart said it was an easy decision to jump on board with the fundraiser and donate time and facilities.

“We said sure, we’re very interested. So we had a meeting, lined it up and said we’re going to give it a try,” the manager said.

Organizers are hopeful the fundraiser will expand next year as more people become aware of the event.

“It’s about passing along the blessings that we have,” Paetkau said.

About the author

Reporter

Shannon VanRaes is a journalist and photojournalist at the Manitoba Co-operator. She also writes a weekly urban affairs column for Metro Winnipeg, and has previously reported for the Winnipeg Sun, Outwords Magazine and the Portage Daily Graphic.

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