The side of potatoes you haven’t seen… and the rising cost of food

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Annually House of Friendship utilizes well over 220 000 pounds of potatoes within all of our programs. Therefore a successful Potato Blitz campaign is important for many different programs, patrons and services. You may remember some of the stories Allison shared from various events of the Potato Blitz back in February, but don’t worry – I’m not here to repeat those. Instead I’m going to shine a new light on potatoes. We’ve talked about the nutrition of potatoes and how valuable potatoes are to the diets of our patrons, but we haven’t talked about the cost of potatoes. The cost of potatoes has a significant impact on the fundraising efforts of our Potato Blitz drive each February – and thus provides a glimpse at the side of potatoes we haven’t shown you yet!

In 2010 potatoes cost ten cents a pound. However this year prices spiked up by 50 percent, making potatoes fifteen cents a pound! Though this is a relatively small increase, it has a dramatic effect on the overall campaign. So this small increase isn’t so small to us…

Getting less bang for our buck means that our staff and volunteers needed to work even harder this year to meet our fundraising goal. And thanks to all their support and hard work, and all those who generously donated, we were actually able to surpass our goal! But how did we manage to still meet this goal despite such a significant price increase? For this answer (and a few others) I turned to Christine, our Development Director. 

Christine pictured with Doug, one of the many Potato Blitz volunteers at Steckle Homestead after unloading many of the potatoes collected during the Supermarket Blitz.

Note: Ironically when I meet Christine to sit down to talk about this success and rising food prices, we encountered two of the volunteers from the Potato Blitz who were already busy discussing new strategies to use in 2012. Clearly hard work is definitely one of the many contributing factors to House of Friendship meeting its fundraising goals year after year.

Though each Potato Blitz event is equally important to the overall campaign success, it seems that the Supermarket Blitz may be the reason we came out ahead this year. The reason I say this is because the Don Cameron Potato Night and Community Potato Lunch were relatively unchanged, in comparison to the Supermarket day. Instead of going to the same 12 stores from 2010, the Supermarket event expanded its reach to hit a total of 17 stores. Within the addition of more stores to the event, this also means more volunteers, more signs and posters, more drivers and pick ups, more energy, and other much-needed supplies for a successful day. Essentially the campaign needed to grow and expand its reach to combat the increasing cost of potatoes so all of our programs and patron could still get all the much desired potatoes we need throughout the year. Essentially by going to more stores, our event reached more generous people within the community to obtain the support we needed to reach one step closer to our goal before the final event.

Currently potatoes are the most notable food increase for our organization. Although as food prices continue to rise over the coming months many organizations and households throughout the world will begin to notice the cost increase of many other staple foods. Soon many people’s food budgets may not be able to stretch in enough ways to meet the costs of their nutritional needs because of the rising prices.

“The biggest challenge facing most developing countries is the risk of a big boost in food prices. Food accounts for a large and increasingly volatile share of family budgets for poor and urban families. When prices of staple foods soar, poor countries and poor people bear the brunt.”– World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick (Source)

The idea of rising costs of food are being discussed increasingly in a variety of news outlets. To get a closer look at this our blog will feature some discussion of this complex issue from a few different perspectives. Following this introductory post we’ll allow Tony Bender, House of Friendship’s Community Services Director, and our executive director, John Neufeld to share their thoughts on how rising food prices will impact House of Friendship. Then we’ll share the stage with Wendi Campbell, Executive Director at The Food Bank of Waterloo Region, for her perspectives around the implications of rising food prices for local food assistance programs. From here we’ll allow Dennis, a farmer, a current volunteer at our program and a volunteer on our Board of Directors to weigh in on the issue. And finally we’ll finish our series by gathering the insights from a local business and farmer, Trevor at Herrle’s Country Farm Market. But to tide over your curiosity and to get you thinking more about the issue, please feel free to read an article about a global experience by clicking here; watch a video by clicking here, or enjoy the video below.

However let’s not wait to start the discussion: Have you noticed an increase in your grocery bill? How much flexibility does your budget or menu ideas have?

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