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February 4, 2002

'Potato Drop' to deliver 22 tons of spuds to Atlanta hungry

By Beverly Clark


When it comes to community service, the Candler School of Theology’s Candler Children’s Initiative (CCI) is moving beyond small potatoes—more than 22 tons beyond, in fact.

A Feb. 5 service project organized by the group will take 45,000 pounds of potatoes—enough to fill a tractor-trailer—and use them to help fill the coffers of area food banks and other organizations that distribute food to people in need.

CCI, a student-run group focusing on children’s issues, has teamed with the Society of St. Andrew, an ecumenical hunger ministry, to make the Emory campus the site of the society’s regional “Potato Drop” at noon, Tuesday, Feb. 5, in front of the Dobbs Center. The drop will be preceded by an ecumenical service starting at 11 a.m. in Cannon Chapel, led by Ken Horne, executive director of the Society of St. Andrew, and Marshall Meadors, Candler bishop-in-residence.

Following the service, Horne and Meadors will lead a procession from the chapel to the site of the Potato Drop.

From there, more than 100 volunteers representing a variety of theology student groups will load 50-pound bags of potatoes onto trucks that will disperse the food to area food banks, homeless shelters and other organizations that help people in need. The Atlanta Community Food Bank will be one of the primary recipients.

“One issue we’ve focused on is childhood hunger, and we wanted to do something to help that would bring attention to that need,” said Regina Anderson-Cloud, CCI cochair and a third-year Candler seminarian. “Here in Atlanta, one in five children go hungry on a regular basis. We wanted to do something to raise awareness about hunger on the Emory campus and the greater Atlanta community.”

According to the Society of St. Andrew, tons of potatoes and other produce are often rejected by commercial markets or potato-chip factories due to slight imperfections in size, shape, sugar content or surface blemishes. Usually, the produce ends up at local landfills.

Through the Potato Project, these 45,000-pound loads of fresh produce are redirected to soup kitchens, food pantries, low-income housing areas, local churches and other hunger agencies for distribution. The Potato Project delivers about 17 million pounds of food per year to the nation’s hungry.

“We seek to combine spiritual activities with physical action,” said Heidi Tauscher, CCI cochair. “Since the group began last year, it’s been a real grassroots effort within the school and one that people are very passionate about.”