Inside a Potato Drop
Potatoes are considered among the most complete and versatile of foods, and because of the way American farmers grow and market potatoes, there are opportunities to use them for hunger relief. Potato growers market their produce to grocers and manufacturers, who will accept only the best potatoes, or #1's, because of their size, shape, sugar content, or appearance. The remainder are more difficult to sell, leaving the grower with fewer choices. If growers plow them under to use as seed potatoes for next season, their crop is a loss. However, if they donate their #2 potatoes, they receive a tax credit for the retail amount of the potatoes.
Because of relationships with other charities close to the potato growers, Feed America First can procure a load of potatoes, generally approximately 45,000#, for delivery almost anywhere, for the cost of shipping. The freight on a tractor trailer load of potatoes from Maine or Michigan might run as high as $3,000, and potatoes from the Carolinas, Mississippi, and Louisiana might cost as little as $1,600….the average is about $2,000 per load. The potatoes might be shipped loose in a dump trailer, or might already be bagged in 50# bags.
On the day of the potato drop, the truck will arrive around 6:00 AM in the designated parking lot. The potatoes will be dumped onto the pavement if they are loose, or will be unloaded by a forklift if they are bagged and on pallets. They will need to be bagged (or re-bagged) into 10# bags, suitable to be given to families. Feed America First will arrange for the necessary equipment - pallets, pallet jack, forklift and driver, bags, etc.- to handle the bagging and redistribution of the potatoes to charities, which will pick them up that day and give them to more than 4,000 hungry families in our communities.
The volunteers should arrive at 8:00 AM, rain or shine, and expect to work until close to noon. It takes more than 60 people working steadily to get all of the bagging and the site cleanup done in that time, and the more the merrier. Of course, all of the potatoes must be bagged and the place cleaned up, no matter how long it takes. Groups including kids and the elderly, and all ages in between, have participated, so virtually anyone can help. We would begin the event by describing where the potatoes came from, and to whom they will go, and how it will work, and with include a short prayer.
The hosts for the event should plan to pay the shipping charge that morning, and should coordinate the volunteers. The hosts should provide the volunteers with restroom facilities and water, as well. Several host groups have even provided coffee, biscuits, Danish, and juice. The layout of the parking lot, where volunteers park, where the potatoes go after they are bagged, and where the charities pick up their loads should all be discussed beforehand.
Feed America First would welcome the opportunity to work with your organization to make this happen. If you have questions, please contact Tom Henry by phone at (615) 512-5915 or Send Us An Email.