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Wisconsin potato industry reaches out to Hurricane Sandy victims

WI-HelpsHurricaneVictimsRPE is one of four Wisconsin potato producers that supplied potatoes as part of a donation to the victims of Hurricane Sandy. (Photo courtesy of Dana Rady/Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association)Four Wisconsin potato growers and one shipper have banded together to donate 80,000 pounds of potatoes to the victims of Hurricane Sandy. Two trucks, which left Wisconsin on Nov. 26, will deliver their precious cargo to City Harvest, a warehouse located in Long Island, NY.

“City Harvest works with Feeding America,” said Dana Rady, director of promotions, communication and consumer education for the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association in Antigo, WI. Since Hurricane Sandy struck, Ms. Rady said City Harvest has donated more than 3 million pounds of food to approximately 600 soup kitchens, food pantries and churches.

The two semitrucks from Wisconsin hold 20 pallets of potatoes weighing about 2,000 each. The cargo is valued at $40,000.

“They should arrive tonight,” Ms. Rady told The Produce News on Nov. 27. “[The potatoes] will be delivered some time tomorrow.” The potatoes will be delivered by volunteers to many who are still without power and need assistance.

Ms. Rady said the idea for the donation was attributed to John Hein of Sowinski Farms in Rhinelander, WI. “Someday, our area may need the same kind of assistance,” he said on Nov. 21. “So it’s nice to be able to help.”

Potato donations were made by Igl Farms in Antigo, WI; Okray Family Farms in Plover, WI; Coloma Farms in Coloma, WI; and RPE in Bancroft, WI.

“Wisconsin farmers have a history of being very generous. This is another example of the good will Wisconsinites personify,” said Duane Maatz, WPVGA executive director. “The WPVGA is very proud to be assisting in this project.”

Financial donations to pay for freighting costs continue to come in.

“It’s been wonderful to see so many people in the potato industry working together for an important and common purpose in such a short amount of time,” Ms. Rady stated. “It’s also nice to know that those who need the help will have some extra warmth as the holidays approach.”