Washington potato farmers are donating 1 million pounds of russet potatoes to families in need.
Growers, faced with the shutdown of restaurants and schools, have a surplus of potatoes in storage, said Brandy Tucker, marketing director for the Washington State Potato Commission.
“We’re making an effort to clear out the pipeline and help people who have food insecurity and who are living paycheck to paycheck,” Tucker said. “And growers wanted to make sure potatoes didn’t go to waste.”
A giveaway of 100,000 pounds of potatoes will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Cascade Mall in Burlington.
The Burlington giveaway will be the seventh hosted by the commission. A total of 520,000 pounds have been given away so far.
Tucker said the mayors of Burlington and Mount Vernon helped secure a location for the giveaway in Skagit County.
Two tractor trailers each holding 50,000 pounds of potatoes will arrive Tuesday morning at Cascade Mall. Volunteers from Helping Hands Solution Center, members of the state National Guard and local growers will assist with no-contact distribution.
Tucker said each family will be allowed two 15-pound bags, and may pick up for multiple families. Potatoes are first come, first served.
“We go until potatoes run out,” she said.
Tucker said a recent giveaway of 100,000 in Moses Lake lasted about 2 1/2 hours.
Tucker said because the potatoes were meant to be processed into French fries, tater tots and hash browns they may have more blemishes than those at grocery stores, but will have the same nutrition and taste.
She said the donated potatoes were grown by farmers in Grant, Adams, Benton and Franklin counties in eastern Washington.