potato donation

Scott Pinkston stacks bags of potatoes onto a pallet at the Cache Community Food Pantry on Friday afternoon.

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Utah State University’s Rotaract Club donated $1,200 worth of potatoes to the Cache Food Pantry last week with the hope of providing Thanksgiving meals to those who cannot afford it.

“Sometimes we’re not aware that there are things people are struggling with,” said Sam Perkins, chair of international service projects for the Rotaract Club. “Just to see the magnitude of 150 bags of potatoes — that’s a big need in Logan for families who are missing out on big experiences like Thanksgiving.”

The Rotaract Club is an offshoot of the Rotary International service organization. The USU chapter meets weekly to plan service projects. Last year the group traveled to Mexico to help build a school in a low-income neighborhood.

During planning, Perkins said someone mentioned donating food to the Cache pantry. They spoke with the director, Matt Whitaker, who said the pantry would take as many potatoes as the students could donate because the pantry was expecting a busy season.

“We try to put out to the community as much as we can that these are the items we need and this is what we’re expecting to serve, so please help if you can. Then the donations start to come in,” Whitaker said.

He estimates the potatoes will be distributed to about 400 families. While the pantry has enough potatoes to distribute, they are still looking for other Thanksgiving based donations: marshmallows, cranberry sauce, roll mixes, Jell-O and, most importantly, turkeys.

The pantry only has about 20 turkeys right now, which is low compared to previous years. If you can donate, dropoff hours are 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday or 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Friday. The pantry is located at 359 South Main St. in Logan

With a goal in mind, the Rotaract club started searching for farms where they could purchase potatoes. Perkins said he was looking for farms that would be willing to donate as well.

“We had some funds for the potatoes, somewhere between $275 and $350,” Perkins said. And a really cool thing ended up happening.”

The club found a farm in Grace, Idaho, called Gibbs Potato Farm. When they spoke with one of the owners, Jenny Gibbs, she said she’d be happy to donate potatoes — $1,200 worth.

“We were like, ‘woah!’ We’re really grateful for her and that generous donation,” Perkins said.

In addition to selling their potatoes to commercial sellers, Gibbs also sets up a farmer’s market stall to sell bags locally, run by high schoolers.

The project started when high school groups, such as band or wrestling, started asking for donations for fundraisers. Gibbs rounded out leftover potatoes from harvest and happily gave them away.

“This project has grown and grown over the years,” she said.

The farm was just finishing up its harvest when Perkins and the club reached out. Gibbs explained that the amount of money the club budgeted wouldn’t get them many bags.

“I said I would have some left over that I’d be willing to donate,” she said. “They offered to pay, but what they had wouldn’t be able to purchase a lot.”

So Gibbs donated what was left over from the harvest, approximately 6,000 pounds of potatoes. Although not their main business, Gibbs said she is always willing to donate. The farm grows a thousand acres of potatoes a year.

Perkins said the experience was heartwarming for him.

“I think it reaffirms that there is good,” he said.

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