Lingle, WY (RELEASE) October 19, 2023 — More than 13,000 pounds of potatoes were donated to Food Bank of Wyoming in an annual potato harvest at the University of Wyoming’s James C. Hageman Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension Center (SAREC) near Lingle.
The potatoes are grown as part of UW outreach efforts through a partnership among UW Extension’s Cent$ible Nutrition Program (CNP), SAREC and Food Bank of Wyoming.
CNP is a hands-on cooking, nutrition and physical activity program that serves income-qualifying families across Wyoming. Its partnership with SAREC and Food Bank of Wyoming connects families facing food insecurity with Wyoming-grown produce.
The first annual harvest at SAREC took place in 2021, resulting in the donation of nearly 6,500 pounds of potatoes. In 2022, 10,920 pounds of potatoes were donated. This year’s harvest, which took place on Saturday, Oct. 7, yielded 13,565 pounds of potatoes.
“This partnership has been a huge success,” says Mindy Meuli, CNP director. “It was a natural connection between SAREC and the Cent$ible Nutrition Program. This endeavor has sparked connections with the other UW Experiment Stations and we are going to continue collaborations that support supplying Wyoming-produced foods to those in need.”
The potatoes have already started making their way to food pantries across Wyoming. They are available at no cost to anti-hunger organizations partnering with Food Bank of Wyoming.
“The local fresh potatoes were such a surprise in this month’s food box,” comments a patron at the Pine Bluffs Senior Center. “I appreciate the extra assistance our local and state agencies give.”
Meanwhile, CNP is working with local food pantries to connect patrons to recipes and resources for using and storing potatoes safely.
“Potatoes are a staple in our pantry, so having this large donation of them will go such a long way in helping support the students, staff and faculty that come to us,” says Jess Dooley, food security coordinator at UW. “We’re so appreciative to everyone who contributes to the potato harvest every year!”
Brian Lee, a research scientist at SAREC, and Steve Paisley, the center’s director, led efforts to plant, grow and harvest the potatoes. Lee also helped coordinate with local food pantries and volunteers.
In addition to the Lee family and SAREC staff members, the 2023 harvest crew included volunteers from the Wyoming Women’s Center; CNP and UW Extension employees; graduate students from UW’s family and consumer sciences department and chemistry department; students enrolled in a UW agricultural education course; Platte County 4-H; and Food Bank of Wyoming staff members.
“This continued and expanding partnership is so important to food insecurity efforts across the state,” says Rachel Bailey, director of Food Bank of Wyoming. “These Wyoming grown potatoes are a nutritious, fresh option for Food Bank of Wyoming’s community Hunger Relief Partners to distribute to our neighbors experiencing food insecurity. It’s wonderful to be able to make local produce available to our partners paired with recipes and resources from CNP.”
CNP is the USDA SNAP-Ed (Supplemental Nutrition Program-Education) and EFNEP (Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program) program in Wyoming. CNP serves people with limited resources through nutrition education and local partnerships that help make the healthy choice the easy choice. The annual SAREC potato harvest is one way CNP partners with organizations in Wyoming to help put healthy food within reach for neighbors facing food insecurity.