One of 18 pallets of Prince Edward Island potatoes is unloaded at the All Nations Centre on Sparks St. in Terrace June 14. (Staff photo)

One of 18 pallets of Prince Edward Island potatoes is unloaded at the All Nations Centre on Sparks St. in Terrace June 14. (Staff photo)

Thousands of pounds of PEI potatoes arrive in Terrace

Federal government pays for distribution

The All Nations Centre on Sparks St. was turned into a food distribution depot yesterday (June 14) when 45,000 pounds of Prince Edward Island potatoes arrived for distribution around the northwest.

“It’s 18 pallets at 2,500 pounds each. You do the math,” said Gurjeet Parhar, a community organizer who handles several food distribution programs in Terrace.

Forklift operator Love Singh worked quickly to remove the potatoes that had arrived via a semi-trailer from Winnipeg.

Approximately a dozen volunteers were on hand to assist as some pallets were quickly placed on other vehicles for transfer to Stewart, communities up Hwy 37 North, east of Terrace to Kitwanga and to the Nass Valley.

“Kitsumkalum already came and got theirs,” said Parhar as the forklift maneuvered around her.

Parhar said she and Alma Derrick, another local food program worker, had about a week to prepare for the arrival of the potatoes after receiving an email from Second Harvest, a national agency which gathers up food that would otherwise go to waste for distribution to food banks and other agencies.

The Terrace drop is just one of approximately 200 across the country organized by Second Harvest and Food Banks Canada, the national organization which represents food banks.

That millions of pounds of potatoes are being delivered across the country can be traced back to late last year with the discovery of potato wart in a few Prince Edward Island fields. The wart disfigures potatoes but poses no risk to human health.

Still, the federal government put a stop to moving potatoes off of Prince Edward Island in November 2021, to prevent the possibility of spreading the unsightly potato wart. The American government followed suit the same month by banning the import of potatoes from Prince Edward Island. That lead to a concerted effort to both find a market for the potatoes before quantities went to waste and to financially assist potato farmers.

The result was the federal agricultural department providing payments to farmers and covering the transport of potatoes across the country as organized by Second Harvest and Food Banks Canada. In April, the American border opened up again to Prince Edward Island potatoes for consumption but not to seed potatoes grown in the island’s fields.

Farmingfood security