Local Seniors Volunteer at Gleanings for the Hungry
Last updated 9/2/2019 at 7:48pm | View PDF
Few people in the Central Valley know that there is a huge operation right in our backyard that sends literally tons of free local fruit and dried soup mix to desperately hungry people in many countries around the world, and many seniors play a big part in this endeavor.
Since 1982, Gleanings for the Hungry has provided dried fruit to needy people around the world. Gleanings is a non-profit organization located in Sultana (near Dinuba) that functions as a ministry arm of Youth With A Mission, an interdenominational Christian ministry whose mission is to help feed desperately poor and hungry people with nutritious food.
The summer fruit season at Gleanings is a very busy time. Peaches and nectarines are being processed now and dried in the hot sun to preserve them for transport. Cull fruit grown in the Central Valley, which cannot be sold at market value, is donated by local growers for processing, which consists of sorting, washing, pitting, sun drying and packing the fruit into buckets for shipment.
Huge shipping containers can be seen leaving Sultana heading to remote locations around the world with food for the hungry this summer, and many local seniors help in every aspect of the process. Kitchen helpers in these busy summer months cook and serve every meal to the 100 to 200 volunteers from all over the U.S. and Canada.
While some seniors brave the heat of the summer to help at Gleanings, more come out from September to May when soup season starts. This nutritious soup can include dehydrated vegetables, rice, lentils, pasta, potatoes and other ingredients which are mostly donated. These are combined with spices to make a very flavorful and nutritious meal for those in need.
Gleanings staff member Lori Ragains reports that seniors process the dried soup mix by scooping out the soup, putting it into bags, putting labels on the bags, dumping dried potatoes and spices into the mix, placing the bags in shipping buckets, and using forklifts to load the buckets into shipping containers.
Any time of year, seniors from our local area and around the world volunteer in food processing, packaging, quilting, machine and vehicle repair, housekeeping, kitchen, grounds work, building maintenance, painting and building – whichever they choose.
Lori says that seniors who come to help, “do just about everything that any other volunteer does at the plant,” and the facility staff delights in those who might have more expertise and experience than the younger generations.
Some come for the day, while others stay at the facility for two weeks to three months to volunteer. Some even come in their RV’s and volunteer for a while. She reports that even seniors with walkers and canes have helped in many endeavors at the plant and some use the facility golf carts to get around.
Gleanings also has seniors who live year-round at the facility working in food service, groundskeeping and repair. Many senior “snowbirds” come down from Canada and the northern states in the winter to volunteer at Gleanings, escaping the harsh cold. Lori says that pastors who are seniors have come from all over the U.S. and Canada with their high school and junior high youth groups to aid in food drying in the summer months as well.
During the cooler season, September to May, many seniors come to make quilts handmade at the Gleanings facility to be and shared with love to the poor and traumatized. Recently, groups of quilters created and sent quilts around the world, including to Holocaust survivors, bringing love and comfort for their winter needs.
Gleanings receives millions of pounds of donated nutritious food. Generous farmers and companies have donated nutrition and energy bars, raisins, pasta, cereal, vitamins, rice, beans, flour, cooking oil, nuts, various fruits (dried and fresh), spices, various dried vegetables, and quilting supplies and fabric.
Also, the generous donations of time and service, furniture, machinery and equipment have allowed for a greater impact on desperate people in need throughout the world. Many also give financially to help feed the world’s hungry.
In 2018, more than 3 million pounds of food products from this local plant were shipped and distributed through agencies in differing nations.
This nutritious food is shipped to feed needy seniors, widows, orphans, victims of disaster, and refugees. Countries that have received Gleanings food have included Armenia, Fiji, Liberia, Romania, Belarus, Mexico, Ghana, Moldova, South Sudan, Guatemala, Burkina Faso, Haiti, Tanzania, Niger, Cambodia, Israel, Nigeria, Ukraine, Venezuela, Cuba, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Jordan, Paraguay, Zimbabwe, El Salvador, Kenya, Ethiopia, Lebanon, and most recently to refugees leaving war-torn Syria.
Gleanings for the Hungry offers local seniors many opportunities for service. For more information, visit them at 43029 Road 104, Dinuba, CA 93618, or online at Facebook/YWAMGleanings or http://www.gleanings.org.
You can also contact them at 559-591-5009 or firstname.lastname@example.org.