In the Bible, there’s a well-known story about Jesus miraculously feeding five thousand with only a few loaves and fish.
That story inspired the Arnaud (Manitoba) Mennonite Church youth group in its quest to help make a difference for hungry people around the world, but its success wasn’t due to a miracle—at least not the same supernatural kind. It was due to hard work, the support of the community and a good Manitoba growing season.
“In class at school, a lot of us were learning about hunger in Africa and Asia,” says youth group member Meagan Schlorff.
The group decided it wanted to do something to help end hunger, and started brainstorming ideas. “We started talking to people at church,” says Schlorff. “The idea for a growing project field came up.”
The youth group decided it would raise money to buy all the inputs needed to grow the crop and then donate its sale to the Foodgrains Bank. It was a natural fit for the group, many of whom come from farm families.
“Grain farmers provide food for the world already,” says Schlorff. “We all help out our parents. It’s something we know how to do.”
So the group started talking to members of their church, many of whom are farmers. Art Enns, offered to donate a 14-hectare field for the project.
Getting youth involved in the work of the church is important to Enns. “We need to pass on our passion for helping those who are hungry to a new generation,” he says.
The youth group organized a fall supper at the church, and before long $2,000 had been raised toward input costs.
While the experience has been rewarding, it wasn’t without its challenges for the youths, who are in grades 9-12. “It’s a really busy time for us,” says Schlorff. “We don’t live close together, so it’s hard to all get together to plan. . . . People at our church are really generous, though. That’s helped out a lot.”
At the end of the season, the group’s field yielded 1,800 bushels of wheat worth $12,600—an exciting success for the group. Including donations, the group raised $15,750.
“We have exceeded our goals,” says Schlorff excitedly, adding that the best part, is “knowing we’re helping to make a difference by coming together.”
Last year, 260 projects across Canada raised $6.7 million for the Foodgrains Bank.
Arnaud Mennonite Church youth group members Meagan Schlorff, left; Cole Holdrick, second from left; Liam Thiessen, third from right; and Adrian Thiessen, right, are pictured with youth leader Ewald Boschmann, third from left and Art Enns, the farmer who donated the land, to celebrate a successful harvest that raised $12,600 for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. (Canadian Foodgrains Bank photo)
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