No small potatoes

Jennifer Stultz
Janice Becker (left), Ashlynn Miracle (middle) and Cathy Abbott (right) check out boxes of large potatoes, free for the taking, Tuesday afternoon at the Hope Center in Pratt. U.S. President Donald Trump and the federal government made it possible for three locations in Kansas to receive shipments of more than 39,000 pounds of potatoes each, for distribution to areas needing relief from COVID-19 shutdowns.

PRATT—More than 39,000 pounds of white potatoes (times 3) were made available to 25 Kansas communities, last week, all part of a COVID-19 relief program put together by U.S. President Donald Trump. In Pratt, the Hope Center on 300 S. Main Street was Grand-Central-Potato-Station on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning as more than 50 people came in to pick up 500 pounds of free potatoes.

"Many of the people who came in here picked up potatoes to give to others as well, so we have no idea exactly how many benefited from this gift," said Hope Center Director Pam Ford. “It was very much appreciated.”

Ford said the opportunity to pick up the potatoes wasn't really a scheduled event, it just happened to fit in that she could offer the potatoes to the public late Tuesday afternoon via a Facebook post, and by Wednesday noon they were all gone.

"We had at least 500 pounds of potatoes go out the door here," Ford said. "Most people were very excited about how big they were. The potatoes were at least 1/2 pound each. No small potatoes."

Mike McGovney, Hope Center volunteer, was the channel through which the potatoes came to Pratt and south-central Kansas.

"We actually took a delivery of 39,500 pounds of potatoes last week at the Hands of Hope Food Bank in Cunningham," McGovney said. "It was basically a large semi-truck full and we just happened to have a big enough place there to facilitate unloading."

McGovney said two other food bank locations in Kansas also received semi-loads of 39,500 pounds of potatoes, those being Alden and Logan, Kansas. From those three rural Kansas locations, more than 25 community food banks at each location became points of distribution.

"There are many people very thankful for the federal government program that brought these potatoes to Kansas," McGovney said. "For many families feeling economic hardships because of the coronavirus shutdowns, this came at a very good time. This was a blessing."

McGovney said 16 pallets of bottled water were received by Kansas food bank locations earlier in June and it was possible there would be more food relief coming in the future.

"There is a good possibility of other items coming," he said. "We just don't know when or what yet."

Ford said there were no restrictions on the distribution of the 10 boxes of potatoes at Pratt's Hope Center.

"There were for anyone and anybody," Ford said. "If someone saw the announcement and wanted potatoes, they were here for the picking."

There just weren't any small ones.