A new non-profit here in Southern Manitoba is looking to feed hungry people around the world. A group of volunteers is establishing the province's first Gleaners organization, based in Reinfeld. The fledgling organization held a fundraising and information breakfast Saturday morning at its shop in the village east of Winkler.
"It's basically salvaging food that would otherwise go back on the field or to cattle feed, but we think feeding need people in the world is an even better idea," said Abe Janzen, a spokesperson for Southman Gleaners. "And so, we expect to gather that produce and then cut it up into small pieces, it's called a dicer that does that, and then dehydrate it." In the end, they are left with a vegetable soup mix. "The dehydration process, of course, lightens the load so you have less shipping costs. They have water wherever they have this soup mix, they will rehydrate it and feed the people that are needy in war-torn countries and other places."

1 bag of soup mix can feed up to 100 people. 

The motivation to create Southman Gleaners came in the form of a challenge issued about a year-and-a-half ago.

"About 15 guys got together. We were challenged to set up a Gleaners in this area by a gentleman in La Crete, Alberta. He happens to have a brother-in-law (and) he challenged him to set up something like that here," explained Janzen, noting there are 8 other Gleaners organizations in Canada but none in Manitoba. "So that challenge was responded to. People thought it was a good idea."

Southman Gleaners' dryer was recently delivered to its warehouse in ReinfeldSouthman Gleaners' dryer was recently delivered to its warehouse in Reinfeld. Photo courtesy https://www.southmangleaners.ca/

So how will the dehydrated soup mixes get to where they need to go? Janzen says Southman Gleaners is on the hunt for Christian mission organizations with people on the ground, in order to ensure proper distribution. 

"Faith Mission has already sent food out to Ukraine from other Gleaners, but sometimes they are in short supply, so they are waiting for us to produce. We have another mission that does work in Cuba. They are contacting us wanting supplies."

Southman Gleaners has already outfitted a production facility in Reinfeld and purchased a dicer, tables, a triple sink and a dehydrator, all with generously donated funds. Donated equipment also includes an electric forklift/charger, vegetable washer, a hot water pressure washer, to name a few. Janzen noted, donations continue to be needed to purchase other equipment and supplies worth nearly $128,000. The organization hosted a fund-raising pancake breakfast Saturday to help bring some extra funds. It was also a time for people to enjoy good company and learn more about the mission. 

Once production gets going, Janzen says they'll be looking for volunteers and even people to supply them with the necessary vegetables. 

"There are vegetable growers in the Portage area that have a lot of vegetables that get graded-out, and so we've contacted them, and they are more than willing to supply us with their produce as well."

Janzen noted they'll even be able to salvage excess produce that comes out of our gardens. 

Click here to learn more about Southman Gleaners. 

~ With files from Ronny Guenther ~


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