Alberta soup kitchen receives beef boost

On a recent class trip Eva Ketchmark had a memorable experience at the Lethbridge Soup Kitchen.

On Friday, the 12-year-old 4H Club member from Lomond not only gave back to the facility, but made sure many less fortunate will be fed over the coming months.

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With the COVID-19 pandemic cancelling the 4H show earlier this year, Ketchmark instead donated her steer, Nailer, to the Lethbridge Soup Kitchen Association.

She arrived at that decision after reflecting on her soup kitchen visit.

“I decided it would be a really good idea to donate it to somewhere it would be needed,” said Ketchmark. “I decided that after my experience at the Lethbridge Soup Kitchen after a school field trip. It was an amazing experience.

“I've always been interested in helping people out. When we came to the soup kitchen I helped serve and made soup and tarts and helped served the food. I felt like I really belonged and that was something I really wanted to carry on doing because it was such an amazing experience and it made me feel really good about myself.”

Friday’s donation was roughly 816 pounds of meat with 12 boxes each weighing about 40 pounds.

Ketchmark, who has been a 4H member for about three years, had Nailer for about a year.

“Nailer was really special because he was big and he also loved me,” she said. “Every time we worked with him he was always there for me. He wasn’t really mean to me, he just kind of went along with everything I asked him to do. It was really special.

“When he was a baby his mom was really mean to him or she was mean to us. So we took him off his mom and bottle fed him. We fed them 4H rations to help them grow bigger. At the end of the year we show them first and then we sell them.”

Bill Ginther, executive director of the Lethbridge Soup Kitchen, said Friday’s donation of meat could last six months and possibly longer. “We get about $40,000 to $50,000 worth of food given to us by local grocers and greenhouses,” he said. “But one of the things we often have to buy is meat and meat is probably the most expensive thing we serve. We try to have meat with most meals. We think it’s really important to serve nutritious meals and one of the things we have to buy is meat.”

Ginther said he doesn’t get to see all the soup kitchen volunteers and wasn’t aware Ketchmark had been at the facility prior.

“But Eva came with her school group and was really impacted by her experience,” he said. “For me, the biggest thing is we do our utmost to try and get young people involved. We encourage families to bring their kids as young as four. We think the idea of introducing young kids to people who don’t have the same kinds of opportunities, it’s something that has impacted Eva to the point when it became the opportunity to make a donation. She thought of us first given her own experience. We want to get young people involved and Eva is a really good example of how young people move beyond their own life and say ‘What can I do for others?’”

Lethbridge Soup Kitchen Association president Barb Phillips said Ketchmark represents what the soup kitchen is all about.

“We could not exist without the donations of food and the volunteers that come to serve here at the Lethbridge Soup Kitchen. She brings it all together with a gift from the heart, which is a mighty large gift, and represents all of our donors in southern Alberta from individuals like Eva to service groups to small and large businesses and farmers and ranchers in the area. We are deeply indebted because without them none of this would happen.”

Ketchmark’s young age made Friday’s donation that much more significant, said Phillips.

“I have great faith in young people in our community. Sometimes they get a bad rap which is not deserved at all. But Eva speaks to the fact young people are out there and they are taking this seriously such as helping the vulnerable in our community and we're deeply indebted to that. Kudos to her.”

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