From left to right: Vahlleri Semeniuk on behalf of the Second Harvest Food Bank; Jaylene Bourdon on behalf of the SAFE Society; Kaily Jeffery, who raised and sold her own 4H steer; and Tony Nikic, manager of the Salmon Arm Save-On-Foods, who bought Jeffery’s steer and donated the meat to Second Harvest and the SAFE Society. (Contributed)

Salmon Arm charities, Sicamous teen benefit from grocer’s generous bid on 4-H steer

Tony Nikic, manager of the Salmon Arm Save-On-Foods, donated meat to Second Harvest, SAFE Society

  • Sep. 16, 2021 12:00 a.m.

Kaily Jeffery is one step closer to starting her own herd of cattle, and two Salmon Arm charities have a beefed-up supply of food to share.

The 15-year-old from Sicamous sold the steer she’d been raising for a meaty sum at the 2021 Okanagan 4-H Stock Show, thanks to a generous bid from Tony Nikic, general manager of Salmon Arm’s Save-On-Foods.

Jeffery said she distributed marketing packages to about 30 businesses, including Save-On, before she heard from Nikic. He became interested in Jeffery’s steer because she educated him on what it took to raise one and how it was fed.

Nikic approached his company’s meat department and got the OK to attend the 4-H Show on July 10, where an auction would take place.

Before the auction, Jeffery and Nikic had agreed on a price for the steer: a fairly average rate of $3.75 per pound. At that cost, a 1,000-pound steer would cost $3,750.

As Nikic got the green light to buy the steer as part of Save-On-Foods’ commitment to supporting community, he decided all that meat would be better served in charities’ fridges and freezers than in his store’s display case. So, with an all-in budget of around $5,000 and two local charities — Second Harvest Food Bank and the SAFE Society — picked out, he headed to the auction.

“I was inspired to hear the goals of all the young folks at the auction,” said Nikic. Some planned to put the money they made from selling their steers towards school, and Jeffery wanted to put hers towards starting her own herd of cattle.

Jeffery’s steer, named McQueen, was the ninth of 12 steers up for auction, said Nikic. Before it came time to bid on McQueen, something he didn’t expect happened.

Nikic watched as Shuswap-based grocer, Askew’s, purchased a steer. In the spirit of friendly competition, Nikic knew he had to win McQueen.

“Come hell or high water, we had to win that steer,” said Nikic. “The budget went out the window, you gotta do what you gotta do.”

However, he emphasized there’s no beef between the two grocers.

“All due respect to our competitor. We want to be involved in the community just like they do; the real winners were the young folks selling their steers.”

Nikic and Save-On-Foods ended up spending about $7 per pound on McQueen. With the steer’s live weight of 960 pounds, that meant they paid $6,720 for it.

It was the highest dollar-per-pound bid of the day at that time, said Nikic, a feat he was proud of and which received cheers from the auction’s crowd.

“I’ve been working for Save-On-Foods for 42 years, and this is my 20th store. But this was a first for me,” said Nikic.

“Perhaps this is something I’ll have to stay involved in for the future. I had a lot of fun.”

While it was Nikic’s first time at an auction, it certainly wasn’t Jeffery’s. She’s been involved with 4-H for 10 years, and has been doing beef projects for five.

Her favourite thing about it is getting to work with and train her own animals.

With the money she made from her steer, Jeffery put a down payment on a heifer. It’s the first step towards starting her own herd. She said next year for 4-H, she’ll be doing a steer project and a heifer project.

“I’m just really thankful to Save-On for buying my steer,” said Jeffery.

Read more: VIDEO: 14-year-old Salmon Arm rodeo athlete Brook Kosick competes at provincial level

Read more: North Okanagan-Shuswap all-candidates talk affordable housing

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