Published online: Nov 22, 2011 Potato Harvesting, Seed Potatoes
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POCATELLO, Idaho-As the holidays roll around, we always try to think of the less fortunate. But this year, a new partnership between the Idaho Foodbank and the Idaho Growers and Shippers Association could mean a more reliable supply of fresh, local food for the people who need it most.

On Monday, the partnership meant that the food bank has 40,000 pounds of fresh Idaho potatoes and $5,000. The food and money will go to the more than 700 Thanksgiving food boxes that the food bank has to fill.

"You can't get any fresher potatoes than these. The red boxes were done today. So it's just as fresh as you can get them," said Idaho Foodbank's Special Assistant to the President Roy Lacey.

Those fresh potatoes came fresh off a truck backed up to a loading dock at the food bank's Pocatello warehouse, toppling palettes piled together by a forklift. Lacey has been working to make this partnership happen with the IGSA for a year. Because the food bank gives out fewer packaged snacks than ever, the relationship is crucial, he said.

"These fresh fruit and vegetables are over 20 percent of what we give out now, which is just such a huge change from what we used to be," Lacey said. The Idaho Foodbank used to distribute anything that could fill people, but now it has a focus on healthier food.

Because low-income people can tend to reach for cheaper, less nutritious food, Lacey said the focus is even more important. He is hoping this helps keep all people healthier, regardless of income, he said.

"In our times of obesity and poor people buying whatever is thick and heavy and a lot of calories to get by, we're teaching them how to use other things. Things they would not ordinarily pick up in the store," he said.

IGSA President Travis Blacker credited his board of directors for the connection. The board got together and decided it wanted to help out the community, and thought this would be the best way to do it, Blacker said.

"It's great. It's neat to see that the whole association could provide this donation for everyone and it's going to the needy people at a great time of year," Blacker said.

With yields above average this year, Blacker said it was an easy choice.

"I guess it's our way of giving back," he said.

The IGSA is also donating another 40,000 pounds of potatoes next month.

The food bank is also looking for turkey donations. It has only six donated birds right now; normally the food bank would have more than 100.

SOURCE: Local News 8, KIFI, Idaho Falls