SPOKANE, Wash. - Washington state farmers are preparing to donate more potato surplus Wednesday in Spokane as COVID-19 restrictions continue to take a toll on the potato production industry.
The Washington State Potato Commission has coordinated with Second Harvest and the National Guard to give away 100,000 pounds of potatoes at the Spokane County Fair & Expo Center on Wednesday, May 27, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. The potatoes will be bagged and directly loaded to vehicles.
Washington producers are a major provider of processed potatoes in the global food industry, and COVID-19 restrictions on restaurants and food industries have slowed or stopped production of potato products across eastern Washington.
With 90 percent of frozen potato products being used by the restaurant industry, that leaves about 1 billion pounds of potatoes without a home.
Washington farmers are working towards a goal of donating 1 million pounds of potatoes to those in need, and says the total will eclipse 800,000 following the Spokane giveaway.
"These are processing potatoes so they are not like the potatoes you see in the stores that are all the same size in a bag, they may be blemished, but they are still delicious and nutritious," the WSPC said in a release. "The potatoes that we have a surplus of, were all scheduled to be turned into french fries, tater tots, wedges, etc. The farmers do not want to see these potatoes in storage sheds go to waste."
Washington growers are losing millions of dollars due to this situation, but are still wanting to support those also having financial troubles due to COVID-19.
The WSPC says while they are giving away the potatoes, they still face costs of 7 cents per pound to wash, bag and transport the potatoes. A GoFundMe has been created to help offset these costs and continue giving away free potatoes to the hungry.