You are probably familiar with this famous painting by Jean-Francois Millet called The Gleaners. Gleaning is the act of collecting leftover crops from farmers’ fields after they have been harvested. In the Bible, it is recommended as a way to help the poor.
This past week we saw the modern version of gleaning in Leamington Ontario. Both my brother-in-law Paul and my sister-in-law Shirley volunteer their time at the Southwestern Ontario Gleaners.
Paul and Shirley took us to see what they do as volunteers. We arrived just at coffee break time so the work crew wasn’t on the floor when we there but it was still interesting to check out the operation.
Local fruit and vegetable growers donate unmarketable produce to The Gleaners and then a crew of volunteers turns it into nutritious packaged food mixes that are distributed to needy people locally, nationally and internationally.
Donated produce is cleaned, sorted, diced, dried and dehydrated.
The mixes are measured, labeled and packaged. The volunteers can package 36,000 servings of soup in just one hour. Last year they diverted more than a million pounds of produce from landfills.
These boxes are ready to leave the building to go worldwide including northern remote parts of Canada. Each year the Gleaners area of influence gets bigger as they send more products to more destinations.
Instead of food being thrown away it is gleaned and repurposed and helps people who need it most. This sign I saw on the chalkboard at the Southwestern Ontario Gleaners explains their philosophy. The day we visited there must have been nearly thirty people lending a hand to the important mission of The Gleaners. Thanks, Paul and Shirley for showing us around. The work you are doing is important and inspirational.