North Okanagan Valley Gleaners volunteer Hank Beerstra flattens some dehydrated food that will become dried soup mix to be distributed overseas at the organization’s plant in Lavington.

Gleaners serve up support

North Okanagan Valley Gleaners ship more than two million servings of dried soup to countries in need.

  • May. 6, 2012 9:00 a.m.

North Okanagan Valley Gleaners continue to feed the world.

Using volunteer labour at a converted ginseng plant in Lavington, the Gleaners in 2012 bagged dried food product into 20,400 bags of dried soup mix, which equates to more than two million servings.

“That food is all spoken for to countries such as Moldova, North Korea, Honduras, Nicaragua, Ukraine, Mozambique and Cambodia, to name a few,” said Gleaners board member Eileen Nogue.

Close to one million servings were shipped out of the Gleaners Whitevale Road plant recently, headed for Romania. Approximately 165 barrels were shipped out, each one containing 60 bags of dehydrated food mix.

“Each bag has enough content for 100 servings,” said Greg Stace, former plant manager.

The Gleaners were offered the use of the former ginseng plant in the spring of 2008.

After much volunteer labour to clean the plant and modify dehydrators and collect needed equipment, they began production of locally grown donated produce that was in excess of what the grower needed, at three days per week in July of 2010.

“In January 2011 we bagged 12,000 bags of soup mix,” said Nogue. “One bag makes 100 servings of soup so that equates to 1.2 million servings of soup.  We also bagged over 1,200 bags of dehydrated apples.”

The food was distributed overseas through various mission agencies.

Last year, the Gleaners steadily increased its work days to five days per week. The work day consists of starting at 8 a.m. and finishing around noon. The dehydrators work for approximately 20 hours.

“We operate on volunteer labour, and average about 15 to 20 volunteers per day,” said Nogue. “We can always use more. Our volunteers are mostly seniors.”

Gleaners help in other ways besides food.

They collect and distribute medical equipment that is given up by local hospitals and health care facilities for distribution to Third World countries.

The Lavington plant currently has enough equipment to fill five 40-foot containers. And while they have been offered more medical equipment, their current location is full. Therefore if anyone would like to assist the Gleaners and has storage space, they are encouraged to call Nogue at 250-545-1672.

They also operate a used furniture store in Vernon, taking donated products and selling them.

The funds raised at the store are used to assist the Gleaners in their humanitarian efforts.

The store, which just celebrated its first anniversary, is located on 29th Street across from the former Baker’s Dozen.



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