Potato drop yields 20 tons of food for area hungry

As the hot, Friday afternoon sun beat down on the Fort Worth Convention Center, delegates, bishops, general agency staffers and visitors to the 2008 United Methodist General Conference left the center's air conditioning to help load 40,000 pounds of sweet potatoes into trucks, vans and trailers for distribution to area social service agencies that feed the hungry.

The bulk of the sweet potatoes more than 17,000 pounds went to the Tarrant Area Food Bank, a Second Harvest central warehouse that sends food to 300 central Texas soup kitchens, food pantries, senior citizen centers, after-school programs and other agencies.

Delegates and visitors to the 2008 United Methodist General Conference help
load 20 tons of sweet potatoes.

"On average, every pound is a meal," said Susan Frye, the food bank's community events director. "So, you guys are donating 17,000 meals to us today."

Frye said the food bank supplies food for 30,000 to 40,000 families per month. "Nowadays, with the high cost of food and groceries, it is becoming increasingly difficult to get quality, nutritious food to distribute," she said. "It's a tough time. Everybody's dollars are tight. So, it's a real boost for us to get fresh produce. That's hard to get these days."

The "potato drop" was sponsored by The Society of St. Andrew, a national hunger relief agency based in Virginia, and the Task Force on Hunger of the Central Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church. The potatoes were provided by Texas Sweet Potato Distributing Inc., a division of W. E. Bailey Produce of North Carolina.

Carol Breitinger, Society of St. Andrew communications director, said another 15,000 pounds of potatoes went to the North Texas Food Bank and 5,000 pounds went to United Community Centers. First Street Methodist Mission received 2,000 pounds and 1,000 pounds went to Arlington Urban Ministries.

"This 20-ton load of sweet potatoes will provide about 120,000 servings of nutritious food to individuals and families in the region within days, perhaps hours, of the spuds being donated to the agencies serving the needs of the poor throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area," Breitinger said.

Frye noted that 35 percent of those receiving food from the Tarrant Area Food Bank are children.

"A lot of those children aren't looking forward to summer," Frye said, because they will not be getting school lunches provided by the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program.
 

United Methodist Bishop Hope Morgan Ward
does her part.

Frye told a story about a 13-year-old girl who told her that when she didn't have enough food, she ate grass "because it was like eating salad."

"There is hunger right here in Fort Worth," Frye said. But, she added, the potatoes will help fight that hunger. "The United Methodists are making a difference, and we really appreciate that."

The Society of St. Andrew is a nationwide, nondenominational, nonprofit organization that salvages fresh produce that otherwise would go to waste and distributes it free to those in need throughout the continental United States. It is headquartered in Big Island, Va., where it was founded in 1979.

The organization has submitted a petition to the General Conference asking the denomination to designate it as "the principal nationwide organization within The United Methodist Church to alleviate hunger in the United States."

The Rev. Ken Horne, Society co-founder, said the petition is intended to make ending domestic hunger a priority of the church, adding, "Only when we forge a 'critical mass' of people demanding an end to hunger will it become a national priority."

*Rhodes is Director of Communications of the Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church.

News media contact: Kathy Noble or Tim Tanton, e-mail: [email protected].

Phone calls can be made to the General Conference Newsroom in Fort Worth, Texas, at (817) 698-4405(817) 698-4405 until May 3. Afterward, call United Methodist News Service in Nashville, Tenn., at (615) 742-5470(615) 742-5470.

Related Articles

General Conference headlines

United Methodist Men promote hunger awareness

Resources

General Conference 2008

The Society of St. Andrew

You'll need Skype CreditFree via Skype

Like what you're reading?  United Methodist Communications is celebrating 80 years of ministry! Your support ensures the latest denominational news, dynamic stories and informative articles will continue to connect our global community.  Make a tax-deductible donation at ResourceUMC.org/GiveUMCom.

Sign up for our newsletter!

umnews-subscriptions
General Church
Bishop Elaine J.W. Stanovsky presides as delegates hone their electronic voting skills during a practice election at the 2016 General Conference in Portland, Ore. In response to the Commission on the General Conference’s decision to further postpone the 2020 General Conference until 2022, the Council of Bishops has called a special session of the General Conference to be convened online on May 8, 2021. File photo by Paul Jeffrey, UM News. Breaking news

General Conference postponed until 2022

Organizers have postponed the full General Conference, including proposals for a church split, until 2022 when delegates can meet in person. A special one-day, virtual General Conference is planned for May 8.
General Church
An international group of General Conference delegates invited fellow United Methodists to envision a better way to be the church. Based in part on that feedback, the group is unveiling a new vision map offering ways to make room for all at God’s table. Graphic courtesy of Out of Chaos, Creation.

Delegates map out vision for church future

An international group of General Conference delegates asked United Methodists around the globe to help imagine a better way to be the church.
Violence
The Rev. William B. Lawrence.  Photo by H. Jackson/Southern Methodist University.

What would Jesus tell the US Capitol rioters?

The Rev. William B. Lawrence examines the claims of Scriptural authority by violent protesters who stormed the U.S. Capitol.