Food banks 'overjoyed' as P.E.I. potato shipments continue

·2 min read
A shipment of P.E.I. potatoes was unloaded at a food bank in Hamilton, Ont.  (Food Banks Canada  - image credit)
A shipment of P.E.I. potatoes was unloaded at a food bank in Hamilton, Ont. (Food Banks Canada - image credit)

Island potatoes may have been shut out of their biggest export market, but they're still finding a way to make a difference elsewhere.

P.E.I. potatoes have been on the menu at many food banks across the country while exports to the U.S. mainland remain suspended.

Almost 100 truckloads of donated spuds have left the Island as part of a program managed by the P.E.I. Potato Board, which aims to prevent the potatoes from going to waste.

Kirstin Beardsley is the CEO of Food Banks Canada, which has helped distribute about half of the loads shipped.

Food Banks Canada
Food Banks Canada

She said the shipments have been "wonderful," and that all the food banks that have received the potatoes are thankful for the Island farmers providing healthy food to people who need it most.

"The food banks are getting nutritious product with a long shelf life at no charge, and the potato growers and farmers can see that their hard work is going where it's needed and helping people across this country who are experiencing hunger," she said.

"It's just fantastic. Lots of smiles from the food bankers when they receive these shipments."

Submitted by Barb Lundstrom
Submitted by Barb Lundstrom

'Overjoyed'

Beardsley said there have been shipments to British Columbia, Quebec, New Brunswick and Ontario. The organization even plans to start shipments to the North soon.

The Kamloops Food Bank is one of the organizations that has received P.E.I. potatoes.

Submitted by Barb Lundstrom
Submitted by Barb Lundstrom

"Unexpectedly, we had this driver arrive with 18,500 pounds of Prince Edward Island potatoes ... and we were just overjoyed," said Barb Lundstroom, a long-time volunteer.

"These potatoes serve 53 agencies locally. That's including schools, places that need help, plus several local food banks [in small communities]."

Lundstroom, who also volunteers at two soup kitchens, said they've already found use for them.

"There were several times that we did use the potatoes, that we had made scalloped potatoes with ham and vegetables. And we fed 83 people [in one] day," she said.

"[At the food bank], we serve roughly about 250 clients per day. We have our family days, we have our senior Day, we have our singles Day. So these potatoes were just left on a pallet and people were able to take as many potatoes as they wanted, because we have such a large volume."

Submitted by Barb Lundstrom
Submitted by Barb Lundstrom

Food Banks Canada is committed to shipping 3.5 million pounds. Beardsley said the program will run to the end of the summer or while potatoes last.

It's been over 100 days since the ban on potato exports was first imposed.

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