Matt Jones has always been an environmentalist, but after spending years travelling to some of the most remote locations in the world and seeing the devastating effects of hunger, he considers himself to be more of a humanitarian. And after opening a grassroots art gallery, Gasworks Gallery, in 2004, he wanted to find a way to give back the local Seattle community.
"I just went into Safeway one day and saw that potatoes were only 10 cents per pound," he said. "I picked up 500 pounds, and decided to take them to a food bank."
Jones brought the 500 pounds of spuds to the University District Food Bank, and went back to get more. Upon his return, volunteers dubbed him, "The Potato Guy" for his generous donation.
And from there, the nickname "The Potato Guy" stuck around. Jones' personal project has since expanded with the creation of Mashedpotatoes.org, which exclusively collects food donations.
The deliveries kept getting bigger and bigger, and Jones realized that thousands of pounds of potatoes would be easier to handle at a large donation collector, like Northwest Harvest.
"It's a shame that people in Washington are starving," Jones said. "It doesn't make sense with all the resources we have."
In 2006, Mashedpotatoes.org received its first big donor in FC Bloxom Company, a produce distributor that's been in Seattle since the 1930's. That year, the partnership brought in over 90,000 pounds of potatoes for Home Team Harvest, making up over half of the total donations collected that year.
"There's nothing like pulling up with a big truck of potatoes and seeing how excited everyone gets," Jones said. "Mashed potatoes are the king of comfort food." To date, the organization has donated nearly a million pounds of potatoes to Northwest Harvest.
Bill Bloxom said that his company has been active in donating to the community since his grandfather opened the business in 1934.
FC Bloxom distributes, imports and exports fruits and vegetables locally, regionally and to Central and South America and the Caribbean. The company makes large charitable donations twice a year to food drives in the state.
"This is a great way to leverage public awareness," Bloxom said of Home Team Harvest. "With more of a publicity effort behind food donations, specifically healthy ones, we get more of a community response instead of going rather unnoticed."
While food drives often request non-perishable items since they are far easier to store, fresh vegetables and fruits are often left out of the equation.
"The last things that people are able to afford are fruits and vegetables," Bloxom said. "We don't want that left out of diets as people are left in economic hardship. In fact, that's the first thing we want them to have."
We're excited to have Mashedpotatoes.org and FC Bloxom Company back this year for another tremendous donation to Home Team Harvest!