Sweet Potato Drop at Asbury distributes 40,000 pounds

What do you do with 40,000 pounds of sweet potatoes? Volunteers at Asbury United Methodist Church helped to fill plates of hungry individuals.

Volunteers bagged 40,000 pounds of sweet potatoes for the Society of St.Andrew.

That massive potato drop in Madison was only a portion of 6.3 million pounds of sweet potatoes from a North Carolina grower that the Society of St. Andrew is distributing to food banks and pantries.

The society is a non-profit, hunger relief organization with offices around the country, Mary Lynn Botts said. Botts works as North Alabama gleaning coordinator for the Society of St. Andrew.

The society had only three weeks to move the potatoes and issued calls to 150 receiving locations, including faith communities, food banks and civic organizations. These groups helped in paying freight and packaging the potatoes.

“What a great day God gave us for the Sweet Potato Drop,” Botts said. “I was amazed at the work of so many and how God provided.”

The shipment of potatoes arrived early on May 19 and was dumped in Asbury’s north parking lot at 980 Hughes Road. By 7 a.m., volunteers were bagging the vegetables. Local agencies picked up the bags of sweet potatoes by 10 a.m.

To ship the potatoes, the society enlisted 25 tractor-trailer trucks from its warehouses. “It was a challenge to move as much as possible and a very welcome emergency,” Botts said.

The single load to Madison brought 120,000 servings of food for people in need in Madison and surrounding counties, Botts said.

The Sweet Potato Drop coincided with “Change the World” weekend for the United Methodist Church.

The Society of St. Andrew promotes an end to food waste in the United States by a common-sense approach that gleans and salvages fresh produce at the farm level. Across the nation in 2011, the society rescued 26.9 million pounds of food with help from more than 31,000 volunteers.

For more information about the society, call Botts at 256-658-7555, send email to gleannorthal@endhunger.org or visit endhunger.org.

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