Construction is coming together to keep Saskatchewan fed during the pandemic.
Saskatchewan construction associations have teamed up with the province’s food banks to make sure people can keep eating during the COVID-19 crisis.
Merit Saskatchewan member services co-ordinator Brittany Kugler said member company Kelly Panteluk Construction Ltd. began the initiative.
“It all started with one of our members, Kelly Panteluk Construction Ltd. (Mary Panteluk) reaching out to the associations with the idea of getting the construction/mining/suppliers industry involved. She noted that her family wanted to start things off with a $100,000 donation to the food banks. We were thrilled and more than willing to help co-ordinate the effort. The associations can get communication out to a wide range of companies in the industry,” Kugler said.
Panteluk said her family decided to take action when they heard a call for help from the Food Banks of Saskatchewan on the radio in April.
“We heard the call to action and talked about it as a family. Food is at the heart of all our family gatherings and we extend that to those we work with because we run work camps with access to healthy nutritious meals,” Panteluk said.
“We got in touch with the Saskatchewan Construction Association (SCA), the Saskatchewan Industrial and Mining Suppliers Association (SIMSA) and Merit Saskatchewan and they brought Nutrien (a Saskatchewan potash producer) and looked at how we could get other members of the business community to team up,” she said.
Panteluk added her company has been fortunate to be able to continue work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re a civil construction company and do a lot of tailing ponds, potash and site grading and we’ve been classified under ‘allowable business services’ so we’ve managed to keep going throughout COVID-19,” she said.
Saskatchewan Construction Association (SCA) president Mark Cooper said Panteluk is the driving force behind the donations while the SCA and other associations have reached out to their members.
“All we’ve done is encourage members to participate, sending out videos and emails asking to donate to the food bank,” Cooper said.
Food Banks of Saskatchewan worked through DCG Philanthropic Services to fundraise, Cooper added, “and that company engaged with us and with other association partners.”
“We’re trying to raise a million as part of an overall s$6 million. So far we’re 40 per cent of the way to the goal,” he added.
Cooper said he serves on the Regina Food Bank Board and is passionate about food security.
“I want to make sure a society and community as well-off as ours makes sure those who don’t have access to quality food can get it,” he said.
“It comes down to assigning a person to the statistics,” Panteluk added. “We wouldn’t want to see anyone go hungry at all, but circumstances are causing people to have to change their routine. People are more reliant on social programs than before.”
Kugler praised Merit member companies for their donations during a time of financial hardship.
“We have many members that have been hit hard financially by this pandemic, which is why I found it especially amazing to see their generosity. We have received donations of all sizes, so every dollar counts in this effort,” she said.
While Cooper personally has not heard of anyone in the construction industry requiring assistance, he emphasized the importance of ensuring the food bank is available.
“We’ve seen the construction work force go through 40 per cent layoffs, and even if they don’t need it, they’re glad it’s there,” Cooper said.
“In times like these we have to pull together and Canada is good for that and so is Saskatchewan.”