After much fanfare and anticipation, the Idaho Potato Commission's (IPC) Great Big Idaho Potato Truck Tour is well underway!
The truck received an official send-off from Governor C. L. "Butch" Otter on March 30 at a ribbon-cutting ceremony in front of the Idaho Capitol Building. The Governor was presented with a "Great Big Key" and started the truck's engine to signify the commencement of the tour. For seven months the truck will travel across the country, celebrating the IPC's 75th anniversary, reminding folks of the goodness of Idaho potatoes as well as helping raise funds and awareness for Meals on Wheels (MOW), the oldest and largest national organization dedicated to helping end senior hunger.
There are more than 5,000 MOW programs across the country that, in total, prepare and deliver more than one million meals each day to homebound seniors. These programs are run primarily by volunteers. There are between 800,000 and 1.7 million individuals who donate their time and often their own resources to make sure the elderly in their communities are nourished. Some believe that this is the largest volunteer army in the nation.
The statistics on senior hunger are shocking, and unfortunately, the future is grim. It is estimated that in 2025, 9.5 million senior Americans will experience some form of food insecurity; that's about a 75 percent increase over 2005.
The team at MOW is working hard to make sure this forecast does not become a reality. But, they need help-both volunteers and donations. As our 75th anniversary year partner, I'm proud to announce that the IPC made a $100,000 donation. We've also put the MOW logo on the truck and will encourage the folks we meet on the tour to make a $7 donation, the cost of one meal. There will be a place on the website, www.bigidahopotato.com, where donations can be made electronically and the driver will have pre-stamped envelopes on board. In turn, MOW will keep their volunteers and friends up-to-date on the tour by posting the truck's schedule and photos from the road on their Facebook page, on their website and in their monthly newsletter.
If you are interested in learning more about the organization, I encourage you to visit www.mowaa.org. Not surprisingly, potatoes are an important food for this organization; they are included in approximately 70 percent of all meals. As we know, potatoes are nutrient-dense, affordable and extremely versatile. And maybe most importantly, they are one of the few foods that almost all seniors enjoy eating.
I hope you will have an opportunity to experience the Great Big Idaho Potato Truck as it crisscrosses the country. To find out when it will be near your neck of the woods, visit www.bigidahopotato.com.