These Volunteers Are Rescuing Crops for People Who Need Food Right Now

Source: Time »

For the last two weekends in a row, community organizer Molly Page has led a group of about two dozen volunteers to a rural Idaho farm on an unusual rescue mission: saving potatoes. Page got the idea after seeing a photo posted to Facebook advertising free potatoes at a farm in Picabo, Idaho. The photo showed mountains of spuds that farmers were forced to dump as the coronavirus outbreak upends the economy. The image was one of many in the genre widely shared online in recent weeks, often juxtaposed with photos of cash-strapped Americans lining up for food assistance to illustrate the dissonance brought on by the pandemic.

The underlying economic problem is a basic lesson in supply and demand. Farmers count on businesses and organizations like restaurants, hotels and schools to buy up huge amounts of their crops. But the outbreak has forced many of those food-buyers to close or reduce operations. With that sudden loss of demand, as well as other disruptions to the supply chain, the price of potatoes and other crops have plummeted. For farmers, it suddenly made more financial sense to slash production and dump existing crops rather than bring them to market. But with more than 30 million Americans out of work and food banks struggling to keep up with the need, the disconnect is nothing short of tragic.

“Growers have lost their market, consumers are having a difficult time accessing food — whether it’s financially or being able to get food. There are shortages in some markets,” says Page…

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