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Washington farmers donate nearly 20 tons of potatoes

KREM-TV Spokane logo KREM-TV Spokane 4/29/2020 Helen Smith
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Washington potato farmers were left with an excess of supply after the coronavirus slowed or stopped production of potato products across Eastern Washington. So what did they decide to do with all those spuds?

Donate them. 

And you can get your hands on some if you're in need. 

The potato giveaway begins at 9 a.m., Wednesday, April 29 next to Harvest Foods, 610 W. First Avenue, in Ritzville. 

The potato growers are bearing the full cost of producing and preparing the products for donation. 

“Our growers are trying to remain positive, using this giveaway as a pay-it-forward gesture of optimism that they believe there are better days ahead,” said State Representative Mary Dye.

According to a press release from Dye's office, additional loads of potatoes will be distributed to to local charities, food banks, churches and individuals in the next few weeks. 

However, this grand gesture also comes after huge losses in the industry. The coronavirus pandemic has stalled many of the businesses that patronize potato growers.

“The 'Stay Home, Stay Safe' order has dealt an enormous blow to potato farmers because 90 percent of all Eastern Washington frozen potato products are used in restaurants and other food service establishments," Dye said. 

Because of the loss of business, there are now more than three billion pounds of potatoes in storage, according to Dye. That includes one billion "without a home." 

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