North Okanagan Valley Gleaners are calling out for more help to meet their 13-million-portion goal to feed the world’s hungry. (Black Press files)

861,870 pounds of food later, North Okanagan’s Gleaners needs your help

More Vernon volunteers required to meet goal of 13-million portions of soup mix

Comfort food and full bellies go hand-in-hand with fall, but for many, it’s not an option. But the North Okanagan Valley Gleaners are looking to change that.

Gleaners is looking to reach its goal of producing 13-million portions of nutritious soup mix to feed the world’s hungry, it said. But the organization can’t do it without some help.

NOV Gleaners is asking Okanagan residents to donate some of their time at the Lavington-based plant to help clean, chop and dry the ingredients for the dry soup mix.

“We believe we can double our production, but we need more helping hands,” NOV Gleaners president Brad Egerton said. “We all know how wonderful the vegetables are in the Okanagan. But sometimes there is too much produce to sell.”

“That’s where we come in.”

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The organization expects there will be a drastic increase in the truckloads of donated produce and it’s vital the volunteer numbers are boosted to ensure there is no waste.

Volunteer shifts are around three or four hours a day and tailored to suit each volunteer.

“Our volunteers love being here,” NOV Gleaners plant manager Harold Sellers said. “We do everything we can to match our volunteer’s skills with what needs to get done.”

“At this time of year, farmers cannot sell all the produce that is grown,” Egerton added, noting the organization can be contacted to have a delivery or pickup arranged.

In nine months, Gleaners has already processed 861,870 pounds of potatoes, parsnips, onions, peppers and other vegetables. Last year, the organization shipped over 7-million servings of soup mix to Guatemala, Myanmar, Cuba, Ukraine and five other countries.

This Sunday (Sept. 8), Gleaners will be hosting a celebration to honour and acknowledge the hard work and dedication of its volunteers at Coldstream Park between 1 and 4 p.m.

One of whom is Hank Beerstra, an 88-year-old man who volunteers at the plant twice a week.

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