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Retired BC dairy couple aids children in need

Alice Guthrie Published on 19 November 2013
Joe and Loretta Krentz

Joe Krentz moved to British Columbia from Saskatchewan when he was 18 and began work in a sawmill. He and Loretta married in 1950, bought their farm in 1954 and started a dairy operation while raising their nine children.

At first it was small-scale, but by 1958, Joe quit the sawmill to work full-time on the farm.

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Joe bred purebred Holsteins under the Langholm prefix and did well in both production and type, having both a top-production cow and PNE (Pacific National Exhibition) grand champion to his farm’s credit.

He was a member of the Holstein Association and stood as president of the BC Holstein Association as well as being a field representative for the association.

Langholm cattle saw show rings at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto and dairy shows in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Heifers from the herd found their way to milking herds in Canada, the U.S. and Japan.
guthrie loretta -joe full
Joe had a milking parlour with metered grain feeding that was state-of-the-art at the time. “It really worked for us,” he states. Joe regularly milked between 65 and 70 cows with this system.

In 1987, the milking herd was sold, as none of his sons were interested in taking over the business. Joe continued to raise heifers for a while and still grows hay. Once the heifers were gone, the barns stood empty, home only to various items stored there.

Canadian Food for Children – BC
Joe and Loretta have a heart for children in need and have chosen to become involved in the work of Canadian Food For Children – BC (not to be confused with the Ontario division).

The goal of the charity is to provide food for the poor, and they currently send food supplies to needy areas around the world.

The British Columbia entity began with a small group in a church in White Rock but soon found it necessary to move to a larger facility.

For a time, they used a greenhouse in Langley; when it was destroyed in a windstorm, Joe and Loretta offered the use of their unused dairy facility in 1998.

It took a lot of work to move out assorted items that had been stored, and steam-cleaning was required to make the barns ready for use.

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The heated calf room was prepared first as a sorting area, the heifer barn became a warehouse, and the old milking parlour area became a thrift store. All of the buildings, with the exception of one barn which Joe continues to use for hay, are utilized.

Joe charges no rent for the use of his barns. “I think it was the right thing to do,” he explains. “If people are in trouble, we should do that (help them) ... we’re not on earth to have a good time; we have a responsibility.”

He adds, “(It’s) the way I’ve been brought up ... as long as we can, as long as we’re healthy, we’re going to do it.”

This charity is run 100 percent by volunteers (about 45 people volunteer at this location) and financed by donations. Only about 2 percent of funds received are used for overhead – like insurance and heating for the barns.

Originally, the group shipped goods via the Toronto office, but it now ships direct from Vancouver.

While they have sent food to other countries, the main area they are focused on now is Haiti. “It’s really bad there,” Joe says.

The intent is to concentrate on Haiti until they are needed more elsewhere. Rice is purchased and shipped directly from Vietnam to Haiti.

Oatmeal and split peas from Alberta are sent in large shipping containers that take about 45 days to reach Haiti by sea.

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In total, they have shipped 10 containers of food supplies this year.

Shipping milk
Joe is particularly enthusiastic about the milk project the group has initiated, as it combines his life work with his passion for children.

Milk powder is purchased from the Canadian Dairy Commission and picked up in Alberta.

The commission is involved, as it needs to know where the milk is going prior to shipping, which is arranged before the milk arrives at their warehouse.

It is moved in and out quickly, since they are only allowed to store it for 30 days.

Food sent out requires Canadian Food Inspection Agency inspection; most countries also require a phytosanitary certificate and inspection done just prior to shipment.

Two containers of milk have been shipped this year.

The goal is to provide one cup of milk per child per day – and there are more than 20,000 kids in Haiti alone.

While they are able to provide milk for only 10 cents a cup, at this time only the most severely undernourished children are receiving help.

“They need 10 times as much as we’re shipping. It’s not enough,” Joe states.

At this time they are sending out 32,000 kilograms per year, but if they could, they would send 300,000 kilograms.

Joe has been told this is the only milk powder getting into Haiti but has been unable to verify that.

As printed on CFFC-BC’s website, Pastor Bob Lefranc in Haiti says, “This (milk) program is making a tremendous impact changing lives ... the children look much better, work better at school and have better memory studying, but the other amazing thing, they have more energy to play.”

How can dairy producers help?
Joe explains that dairy farmers cannot give milk directly – CFFC-BC needs to purchase milk powder from the Canadian Dairy Commission.

Instead, producers could donate funds to help purchase and ship the goods.

The charity already has the programs set up; it is limited only by funding received.

Joe believes this charity could have an impact on the dairy industry.

“It should have, especially if we could buy what we need,” he claims, pointing out that producers have to pay for milk powder storage – if that amount was donated to CFFC-BC, more milk powder could be purchased instead of being held in storage.

“It would really help us a lot,” he adds. Of course, as a registered charity, receipts are issued for tax purposes.

Now, at an age where most people are slowing down their activity, Joe has taken on the position of president of the organization and is responsible for making arrangements for export, organizing volunteer workers and ordering and purchasing food.

He does have help in this job from the vice president of the charity. Loretta is also busy, although she is not involved in administration. Her role is in serving – providing lunches, doing laundry and otherwise working where required.  PD

For more information on Canadian Food for Children - BC go to this website CFFC-BC, email or call (604) 534-4544.

Alice Guthrie is a freelance writer from Hagersville, Ontario.

PHOTOS
TOP: Joe Krentz, left, hands off a shipment of milk powder to Pastor Bob Lefranc in Haiti.

BOTTOM: After retiring from the dairy business, Joe and Loretta Krentz fill their days (and their old farm buildings) with volunteer work for Canadian Food for Children – BC. Photos courtesy of Joe Krentz.

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