They’re the last players picked for the plates.
But 40,000 pounds of them are headed to local charities thanks for a small army of Duke and other volunteers who sorted them into 10-pound bags outside the university’s Smith Warehouse on Saturday.
The Society of St. Andrew, a national organization that focuses on feeding the hungry, dropped off the potatoes gleaned from area farms.
“Potatoes have along shelf life, so we get a lot of reject potatoes,” said the society’s Meg Spears-Newsome, 24, as volunteers loaded 700 pounds into the back of an SUV headed for Durham’s Walk in the Light Ministries.
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“They can be misshapen, too big, too small,” she said. “Grocery stories typically can’t sell any (with) blemishes, but they’re perfectly edible.”
Six Duke departments, including the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership and Religious Life at Duke, helped organize the event.
“This is an opportunity to get outside ourselves and think about engaging with our community,” Christy Lohr Sapp, associate dean for religious life at Duke Chapel and an organizer of the event, said in a news release.
One of the organizers for Saturday’s “potato drop,” Duke senior Greg Poore, has also helped Duke partner with Duke Dining and Urban Ministries of Durham, collecting extra food from six campus locations to donate to the charity.
With financial help from Sustainable Duke’s Green Grant Fund and Duke Student Government to pay for supplies and transportation, Poore and about 15 student volunteers gathered about 1,600 pounds of food last year from the Marketplace, Penn Pavilion, Freeman Center and other locations at Duke. Poore, who has led the effort since fall 2013, said last spring’s 1,600 pounds was about five times what he averaged in previous semesters.
“Things can start small, but the impact to a community is larger than us,” Poore said in the release. “We were able to feed over 1,300 people last semester and it’s exciting to see other people get involved who want to help the community.”
Bryan Roth of the Duke Office of News & Communications contributed to this story.
Food Recovery Network
Throughout the academic year, volunteers can help pick up unused food items from Duke eateries and drop them off at Urban Ministries of Durham, the Durham Crisis Response Center and other agencies that prepare meals for Durham’s homeless and disadvantaged residents. To learn more, email Greg Poore at firstname.lastname@example.org.