Volunteers process fruit for the Okanagan Gleaners in Oliver.
This non-profit group gathers the excess, prepares and dries it, and sends it to Third World countries. Thirty-five volunteers per day work on mixing and packing days. A whopping six million servings of soup every year go out to feed the world's hungry.
In 2013, up to October, the Gleaners produced 641 barrels of dried vegetables, up from 589 the year before, and 141 barrels of dried apple chips, up from 68 barrels the year before.
It all had to be peeled, cleaned, scraped and chopped.
"We have had volunteers come from churches, youth groups, schools, women's societies, college and career programs, and faithful individuals," said Steven Oosthuyzen, general manager.
Rita Wakoluk, 79, came in her camper van from Edson, Alta., to spend the winter helping at the Gleaners, despite a few limitations from a stroke. She prepares coffee and serves snacks to workers.
The produce packed in early January will be shipped to the Philippines, to provide relief for people impacted by last month's typhoon. A 12-metre container of soup mix will be distributed in co-operation with Compassionate Resource Warehouse.
"They will be working through evangelical churches, many of which are serving as temporary shelters," said Oosthuyzen.
Along with dried soup and apple mixes, for 18 years the Gleaners have been tucking in warm clothing for children. This was collected during the Christmas season from Okanagan businesses and churches, including Peachland Baptist Church and others in West Kelowna, and more ranging from Salmon Arm to Osoyoos.
Orphanages in Eastern Europe received the barrels of clothing this year, including tuques, mitts, scarves, slippers, sweaters, blankets, socks and underwear.
The Gleaners began in 1994 when concerned people decided to find a way to use food they saw being wasted in the Okanagan. Images of starving children spurred their efforts.
An orchardist offered a small acreage in Oliver with a 1920s tobacco-drying barn. It was renovated into a food-processing plant. Since 1996, more than 45 million servings of soup have been distributed.
It has gone to Greenland, North Korea, Bosnia, Mexico, Mongolia, Ecuador, Ukraine, Philippines, Ghana, Romania, Albania, Columbia, Uganda, Russia and Siberia. Excess goes to Okanagan soup kitchens and food banks.