Volunteers at Okanagan Gleaners sort produce before preparing it for soup mix
Rather than hand-gathering fallen fruits and vegetables, Okanagan Gleaners sends its refrigerator trucks to area farms to gather unused produce or receives it at an old tobacco barn that the organization converted into its warehouse, when it opened its doors in 1994.
Here, volunteers sort, chop and dice all that produce – onions, tomatoes, beets, potatoes – before stacking it on trays to be dried. Every April, Okanagan Gleaners sets aside three weeks to mix the previous year’s dried vegetables into soup mix, which is packaged into 100-serving bags and packed into drums that hold about 65 to 75 bags each.
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The drums are shipped throughout the world. In the past 12 months, the soup has been sent to Belize, Ukraine, Lesotho, Swaziland, Guatemala, Columbia, Ghana, Haiti and Puerto Rico. In 2018, Okanagan Gleaners provided 8.3 million servings of soup.