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Farmers Donate Spuds to Food Banks

POCATELLO – Idaho Farm Bureau Federation members will distribute 1,100 50-pound bags of potatoes to food banks across North Idaho beginning Monday, April 27.

County Farm Bureau organizations from throughout North Idaho pitched in to come up with the money to purchase the potatoes from East Idaho.  

An almost complete shutdown in purchases of potatoes and potato products for restaurants and other foodservice channels due to reaction to the coronavirus outbreak has caused some pain for potato growers and processors, who suddenly have a lot more supply than demand.

“We wanted to help out the potato industry, which has been impacted by the outbreak and has a glut of potatoes, while at the same time help supply food banks with an important product,” said Bob Smathers, an IFBF regional manager in North Idaho who is coordinating the project. “There is a big demand up here for food and that demand has increased over the last six weeks.”

A semi-load of potatoes will be delivered Monday at 9 a.m. to the Kootenai County Fairgrounds. Food banks in Coeur d’Alene will pick up their share of the spuds, while Smathers and IFBF Director of Commodities Zak Miller will deliver the rest of the potatoes Monday through Wednesday to other food banks.

A total of 18 food banks as far north as Bonners Ferry and as far south as Grangeville will receive the potatoes.

“The food banks are really excited about it,” Smathers said. “One that will get 126 sacks said it would last two weeks and another food bank that will get 230 sacks said that’s about a three-weekly supply for them.”

Smathers said the county Farm Bureau organizations plan to deliver more potatoes to food banks in the area in about three weeks.