Skip to main content

'To feed the world': Researchers develop nutritious dry soup mix for Saskatoon and Regina food banks


Researchers from the University of Saskatchewan have teamed up with the Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre in Saskatoon to fight local food insecurity.

They’ve developed a nutritious, affordable, easy to make dry soup mix using local ingredients, and they’re sharing it with local food banks.

With the increasing cost of housing, food and low social assistance, food banks across the country are seeing record usage.

“We've seen a 42 per cent increase in the amount of people we feed year over year,” said David Froh, vice president of the Regina Food Bank.

“We're feeding over 15,000 people a month. Almost half of those are children. The reality is that one in five kids, one in eight households, are food insecure. It truly is a record demand.”

University of Saskatchewan professor and Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture Research Chair Michael Nickerson (PhD) developed Farm2Kitchen, an oat and lentil based soup mix, to be given to food bank customers in the province.

It's the result of a research project that Nickerson participated in years ago. He tested different blends from pulses and cereals to maximize protein benefits of pulse and cereal crops. They produced therapeutic food aid products for use in Ethiopia

“Plant proteins tend to be deficient in one or more amino acids,” said Nickerson. “So blending at the right ratio, we can maximize that nutrition for development and growth.”

With the help of the food centre, the soup mix was refined and rigorously tested for ideal consistency, cooking time and flavour profile.

“We worked on the particle size and the texture and the right type of cooking time and the right type of palette and the sensory properties for the end users,” said Mehmet Tulbek, president of the Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre.

“It’s a cost effective soup, it’s a local soup, it’s easy to mass produce because we grow lentils here in Saskatchewan. Sustainably sourced, sustainably produced, minimally processed.”

So far, 15,000 soup packets have been sent to the Regina and Saskatoon food banks, but they hope to increase production if the pilot program is successful.

“The initial production run was 15,000 bags of soup which will be distributed in Saskatoon and Regina,” said Nickerson. “And the goal with subsequent production runs is to start with Saskatchewan and then scale all across the country. Ideally getting up to 3 million units a year.”

Tulbek says they have the capacity.

“Running 15,000 units per day, we have about 200 days of production to make the 3 million units,” he said. “If you do double shifts, then we can produce this in 100 days.”

Froh says while Saskatchewan is a powerhouse of agriculture, it’s collaboration like this that will help feed our neighbours, and the world.

“We have more than enough food to feed the world and feed our community members at home,” Froh told CTV News. “What we need is greater collaboration. This is a great example of that.”

Each soup packet makes four to five cups of soup when mixed with water. Top Stories

Stay Connected