SALT LAKE CITY — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Welfare Services and Idaho potato farmers are donating 1.6 million pounds of fresh potatoes to 19 food banks in nine states from Texas to California, and an additional 600,000 pounds of potato flakes will be distributed internationally.

“The LDS Church views this as a wonderful opportunity to partner with farmers, processors, local food banks and international organizations to provide these very welcomed potato products to people in need of food,” said Roger D. Brown of Church Welfare Services. “The food banks were just delighted with the news of this donation to their distribution facilities at no cost to them.”

Since the distribution of potatoes began, many food banks in states throughout the West have received thousands of pounds of potatoes. “They are wonderful and such a terrific addition to our food boxes and to our agencies, shelters and soup kitchens doing feeding programs throughout northwest New Mexico,” wrote Vicki Metheny of the Echo Food Bank in Farmington, New Mexico, soon after the arrival of an initial delivery of 42,000 pounds of potatoes.  “Thank you for the support for the food bank and the estimated 3,000 hungry families that will benefit.”

The process starts at the Church farm and potato farms throughout Idaho, where a total of 6.24 million pounds of potatoes are being collected. From there, 2.6 million pounds of the collected potatoes are sent to processors to be cleaned and sorted. Any potatoes not fit for consumption are removed, and the remaining fresh vegetables are boxed and prepared for shipping. Farmers donate the potatoes, and processors provide their services at a greatly reduced price.

The other 3.6 million pounds of potatoes will be cleaned, sorted, mixed and dehydrated to produce the 600,000 pounds of the potato flake donation. These potato flakes will be donated internationally as the Church responds to emergencies worldwide. The Church is funding the transportation of produce to processing and packaging facilities and final delivery sites for much of the donation.

The following schedule outlines the remaining potato delivery dates for May 2005. Church Public Affairs will release delivery information for subsequent months as it becomes available.

Week of 16 May 2005

High Plains Food Bank, Amarillo, Texas
Delivery on Wednesday, 18 May

Food Bank of the Rockies, Denver, Colorado
Delivery on Tuesday, 17 May

Week of 23 May 2005

Echo Food Bank, Farmington, New Mexico
Delivery on Tuesday, 24 May

Wichita Falls Area Food Bank, Wichita Falls, Texas
Delivery on Wednesday, 25 May