Hurricane Sandy victims have a healthy meal coming their way, thanks to the Wisconsin potato industry. Four growers and one shipping company are donating a total of 80,000 lbs. of potatoes to the East Coast to those who still have limited and non-existent resources. The two semi-trucks both hold 20 pallets of potatoes that weigh about 2,000 lbs. each. Both trucks carry a market value of $40,000.
After leaving Wisconsin, the trucks will travel to a warehouse called City Harvest in Long Island City, N.Y. From there, volunteers from the food rescue organization give out the potatoes to many who are still without power and need help. Since Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast on Oct. 29, City Harvest has donated more than 3 million pounds of food to about 600 soup kitchens, food pantries and churches, and continues to help people in the hardest-hit areas like Staten Island.
John Hein of Sowinski Farms in Rhinelander came up with the donation idea. He hopes these potatoes provide several meals to those who are working hard to return to “normalcy.”
“Someday, our area may need the same kind of assistance, so it’s nice to be able to help,” Hein said.
Monetary donations from four Wisconsin-based groups are paying for the freight costs: Ansay and Associates in Neenah; Grace Fellowship in Bryant; the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA) in Antigo; and Sowinski Trucking LLC, in Rhinelander. Sowinski Trucking LLC is also providing the trucks and drivers.
On Monday, November 26, one truck is scheduled to pick up the donated pallets of potatoes at three farm locations: Igl Farms in Antigo, Okray Family Farms in Plover and Coloma Farms in Coloma. The second truck stops directly at RPE in Bancroft for the second load.
Both trucks will be in New York by the afternoon of Wednesday, Nov. 28, for the scheduled delivery.
This donation is an effort the WPVGA has been pleased to coordinate since learning of everyone’s desire to help.
“It’s been wonderful to see so many people in the potato industry working together for an important and common purpose in such a short amount of time,” says Dana Rady, WPVGA’s Director of Promotion, Communication and Consumer Education. “It’s also nice to know that those who need the help will have some extra warmth as the holidays approach.”
The potato industry professionals have always been good with support during difficult times, according to WPVGA executive director Duane Maatz.
“Wisconsin farmers have a history of being very generous. This is another example of the good will Wisconsinites personify,” adds Maatz. “The WPVGA is very proud to be assisting in this project.”
The WPVGA is a non-profit organization that represents and promotes potato and vegetable growers across Wisconsin. It currently serves more than 300 members and affiliates. For more information, visit wisconsinpotatoes.com/.