Last year, we highlighted one of our customers, Niagara Christian Gleaners (NCG), who collects surplus and off-specification “ugly” fruits and vegetables and dries them to ship to hungry regions worldwide. This month the Ontario faith-based organization installed their second Nyle drying system to double their production to meet the growing need for food around the world.
“The pandemic has increased hunger in less fortunate areas of the world where food insecurity is a daily challenge,” says NCG General Manager Pete Wierenga. Drying fruits and vegetables on a large scale in twin Nyle dryers preserves food efficiently to be safely transported in shipping containers to hungry people on other continents. The recipients simply rehydrate the products turning them into nutritious meals.
According to what is available each crop season, NCG collects off-specification fruits and vegetables from generous farmers and donors in their region. The facility processes such fruits and vegetables as asparagus, beet, zucchini, cabbage, carrot, celery, mushroom, turnip, eggplant, onion, parsnip, pepper, potato, rutabaga, squash, sweet potato, apple, pear, apricot, and more.
NCG installed their second Nyle FDG 1000 dehydrator to work in tandem with their first unit. With the new dryer, NCG can significantly increase their capacity, which was already more than 1.5 million pounds of food in 2020 – the equivalent of more than 5 million food servings. The NCG team steers the “waste” food to their processing plant near Toronto, built-in 2018. Dozens of volunteers wash, sort, chop, dehydrate, pack and ship the dried food to regional food banks and organizations overseas that rehydrate the meals to feed the hungry.
“We found that the first Nyle system we acquired was easy to use, consistent and simple to train staff on,” Wierenga. “With a small full-time team and many rotating volunteers, reliability and ease of use are very important,” notes Wierenga. “Each cycle of the system is easy to program on the touch screen controls, and each product is dried to the specs and time we anticipated.”
Dehydrating preserves nutrients and dramatically extends shelf life. After the donated food is cleaned and chopped, volunteers spread it evenly on easy-to-clean Teflon sheets on standard bakery trays. The trays are loaded into a standard tiered bakery rack and wheeled into the large chambers of each NYLE FDG 1000. The pre-programmed dehydration cycle tailored for each fruit and vegetable typically lasts 10-12 hours. Most of the food is dehydrated to between 8 to 10% moisture, packed into 4-cup bags. Each “Food Aid” box typically contains 20 of these bags and is available at no cost to aid organizations distributing them to areas where food security is a challenge. NCG partners with organizations in the countries receiving the shipments. Nyle Systems is proud to be a part of this noble cause.
For more information about Niagara Christian Gleaners and their good works, visit https://www.niagaragleaners.org/.