It has been a challenge for Daily Bread-Jamestown to collect food since the coronavirus pandemic but a special delivery made it a little bit easier Friday.
KIDCO Farms Processing Incorporated of Steele, North Dakota, and Long Prairie, Minnesota, delivered 2,000 pounds of potatoes to Daily Bread-Jamestown. Daily Bread-Jamestown is a local food distribution program that works with commercial kitchens and farms in the area to provide meals for Jamestown residents.
"It is a great asset to the food that we collect," said Tom Geffre, Daily Bread-Jamestown chair, of the donation. "Many of the facilities we collect from are essentially shut down so our food collections per week is almost nothing."
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Geffre said Daily Bread-Jamestown has been facing some obstacles in collecting food from many of the commercial kitchens. Food collection has decreased and Geffre said the unexpected potato donation has helped to supplement an increased need for food in the community at this time.
"I see only a bigger need than probably we have ever had," Geffre said. "We are way ahead of last year. Much of that is due to contributions, like these potatoes."
Volunteers assembled at Jamestown's Home of Economy Friday afternoon to help distribute the most recent delivery. Daily Bread-Jamestown committee member Deb Lee coordinated with Jamestown's Home of Economy as a drop-off space for the one-ton donation.
"I just went down to (Home of Economy) and said 'this is what I need,'" Lee said. "I know they have a lot of space in their back rooms and he has a forklift and that's what I was looking for. He said 'Yeah that's not a problem, what time are (the potatoes) coming?' He came out and lifted them off of the trailer and put them in his backroom and then we were able to distribute all of them."
Friday marked the second week of donations from KIDCO. KIDCO's first delivery of potatoes to Daily Bread-Jamestown was on April 10. KIDCO co-owner Van Amundson said assuming the pandemic is prolonged, he expects to make more donations to the organization. Amundson said KIDCO has made deliveries to food banks, food pantries and other food donation services throughout the state during this time of food shortages.
Amundson said volunteers awaiting to unload the truck were "ecstatic" about the donation. Lee said the potatoes will be added to meals distributed to senior or low-income families every other month. The potatoes are also appropriated at regular Daily Bread–Jamestown freezer locations and through the Jamestown Public Schools lunch program.
"We have seen an increase in need but also we have seen a decrease in the amount of food we can distribute because so many places are closed," Lee said. " People can contribute to their local food pantry. Our Community Action food pantry and the Salvation Army food pantry are very much being utilized now."
Lee said many of the restaurants Daily Bread-Jamestown collects from have been closed to onsite dining due to a mandate from North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum. Lee added hotels that donate leftover food from breakfast buffets have also stopped serving in order to help slow the spread of the virus. As of April 17, there was 439 positive cases of COVID-19 and nine deaths due to the virus in North Dakota.
"It seems like the demand is more every year," Geffre said. "Particularly now - there are so many people without jobs. When this does indeed end, are those people going to get their jobs back or will it be curtailed? There are so many ifs that come with this virus."
An increase in need and decrease in food have led to more of a demand than Geffre has seen in his eight years with Daily Bread-Jamestown. In 2019 the organization collected and distributed 31,000 pounds of uneaten food. According to Geffre Daily Bread-Jamestown is currently ahead of the trajectory set in 2019. In this time of need, Geffre thanked KIDCO for the biggest food donation ever received by the organization.
"Especially at this time there are so many things that aren't available to the public," Geffre said of the delivery. "It was a great surprise and quite a blessing."