Kenora, Dryden and surrounding communities were in a potato frenzy after one Kenora woman arranged free potatoes for all.
Thursday, April 28, was known as Free Potato Day for northwestern Ontario thanks to the efforts of Tania Cameron who arranged the event.
The whole idea started during the height of COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions when potato farmers in Manitoba had a surplus of stock and families in northwestern Ontario were having a more challenging time affording food.
This most recent Potato Day brought 60,000 lbs. of potatoes to the region after Cameron received word that some farmers, this time in PEI, needed to get their surplus of potatoes out to the communities after losing their market to the USA.
According to Cameron, the federal government would subsidize the cost of redistribution to communities that would receive them. Through her two years of experience and her extensive community network, the job landed in her lap.
Cameron noted that many community organizations were also involved in the distribution of the potatoes and that places like the Kenora Fellowship Centre and Saint Albans Church were integral in getting potatoes for the less fortunate.
Free Potato Day had two pick-up locations, one in Dryden and one in Kenora, for anyone who wanted free spuds. Cameron estimates that all 60,000 lbs. of potatoes had been cleared out in just under four hours between the two locations.
“You know, I am happy to do it. I am happy that people are pleased and grateful to receive the potatoes,” said Cameron.
“I will never say no if there is donations of food or clothing and I will do my best to use my network to distribute as much as we can.”
“I am also happy that we were able to help the farmers in PEI so that they didn’t have to lose all of their harvests.”
Cameron concluded her interview by thanking Grand Council Treaty 3 who were responsible for covering the costs of the forklift and the forklift operator needed to unload all of the potatoes. Cameron also went on to thank all of the volunteers that helped with the distribution and the OPP who were present at the pick-up locations.
Since her first potato mission in 2020, Cameron has brought around 245,000 lbs. of free or discounted potatoes into northwestern Ontario.