When I heard about the USDA Feds, Friends, and Farmers Feed Families food drive, I knew the Central Arkansas Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Council could help in a big way. We ended up donating 1,800 pounds of sweet potatoes to the Grace Community Food Pantry, in Phillips County, from our Delta Blues Sweet Potato facility.
This food pantry is one of the largest in the state, serving approximately 17,622 individuals and 6,419 homes. It also has a Summer Kids Program that feeds children suffering from summer’s lack of government-subsidized school lunches.
We donated sweet potatoes because they were fresh, as opposed to the canned or dried variety of food usually donated to food pantries. Children tend to love the sweet taste of these tubers, which are very nutritious—sweet potatoes have high quantities of vitamins A and C and fiber, as well as naturally occurring sugars that are good for active children.
The Delta Blues Sweet Potato facility is owned by the Central Arkansas RC&D Council, part of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, and provides 120 seasonal jobs in an economically depressed community. Our council is made up of local leaders who partner with other Federal and State agencies and non-governmental organizations to achieve community goals, create jobs and help expand local markets to deliver fresh, nutritious food to America’s children. RC&D Councils serve more than 85 percent of the Nation’s counties and about 80 percent of its population.
Our sweet potatoes are grown and harvested by local farmers, and the processing facility employs local people, to wash, grade, sort, pack and ship the sweet potatoes. The storage facility stores 210,000 bushels of sweet potatoes and is looking to expand capacity to 500,000 bushels of sweet potatoes to bring even more jobs.
This is a success story about government at its best. We are contributing to the community by providing jobs and tasty, healthy food for those in need.
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