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Langley Turkey and Egg Farmers committed to helping those in poverty despite their economic crisis

Amidst rebuilding in the wake of the Fraser Valley’s avian flu crisis, Langley egg farmer Bodo Goetzke is not letting tough times thwart his commitment to help one of Canada’s most poverty-stricken neighbourhoods.  He is one of 150 turkey and egg farmers who not only maintained their commitment to provide Union Gospel Mission with turkey and eggs throughout the year—they have exceeded it. Raising $92,700, nearly $20,000 more than last year, these farmers allow UGM to include desperately-needed protein in many of the 320,000 meals provided in both Vancouver and New Westminster.

“It affects everyone,” explains Ray Nickel, B.C. Poultry Association president.  “About 280,000 birds have been destroyed, and there is compensation for that,” he says, “but it gets complicated for farms in close vicinity. They end up under quarantine, unable to restock, and lose customers with barriers to trade, but don’t receive compensation.”

According to Nickel, the impact far exceeds financial distress. “It’s a huge amount of emotional and physical stress for farmers—the destruction, composting, disinfecting and restocking—it takes a toll.”

Goetzke is one of the farmers whose farming has been disrupted because of geography. He explains why the added stress of the workload and the financial stress have not deterred his generosity of time and funds.

“Regardless of what goes on,” he says, “we’ve been blessed in this industry.  Guys are sticking to their word and just stepping up to the plate. We made a commitment to UGM, and you don’t just walk away from that overnight.”

Goetzke has been a driving force behind the funds raised from farmers. He was an integral part of creating—and now maintaining—the annual golf tournament which has turned into a sold-out, “must-attend” event for those connected to the industry. His personal generosity and fundraising efforts help “top-up” what the tournament doesn’t reach.

For Union Gospel Mission, the gift has been invaluable. The farmers provide all of UGM’s eggs for the year, including the daily hard-boiled eggs many count on as part of a UGM morning snack.

“When the Fraser Valley farmers partnered with us, we were able to move away from offering a lot of sugar—which is easier to obtain—to much-needed protein,” explains Bruce Curtiss, Manager of Hastings Outreach. “Those with so little rarely get meat because it’s so expensive and needs to be prepared properly, yet their bodies are depleted and desperately need this kind of nourishment.”

Curtiss explains that thanks to generous donors, UGM offers a protein, a grain and a fruit or vegetable at every meal. And it makes a difference. “It’s not only homeless people who benefit,” he says. “There are an increasing number of families and seniors, as well as labour workers with jobs, just trying to get back on their feet, and barely hanging on. They depend on us to supplement some of their meals.”

And while the turkey fund does not cover the massive holiday meals like the upcoming Easter event, it provides day-to-day stability in the regular rotation of meals the rest of the year, including delicious turkey sausage, ground turkey, turkey a la king and BBQ turkey thighs.

For the last decade, BC Turkey and Egg Producers have collectively provided UGM with $359,000 worth of protein.

Union Gospel Mission has been feeding hope and changing lives of men, women, youth, and children for 75 years. Through its seven locations in Metro Vancouver and the city of Mission, UGM provides counselling, education, safe housing, and alcohol and drug recovery to those struggling with poverty, homelessness, and addiction. The heart of the mission is to demonstrate God’s transforming love, ease the burden of the most vulnerable, rebuild the lives of the broken, and offer dignity to those who feel cast aside. To learn more, visit www.ugm.ca.

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