FORT KENT, Maine — Aroostook County is as well-known for farming potatoes as for being a place where people look out for one another.

Those factors came together when more than 250 volunteers hand-picked more than 7.5 tons of Dark Red Norland potatoes from a St. John potato plot donated by G.B. and D. Pelletier Farms. The potatoes will be given to food pantries, community cupboards, child care centers and schools around Aroostook County to help sustain people who are experiencing food insecurity.

The most recent statistics available from Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap study in 2020 showed that 9,140 Aroostook County residents, or 13.5 percent of the population, experienced food insecurity. As the cost of groceries continues to rise throughout the country, food banks in Maine have reported an increase in residents who are food insecure and a decrease in food donations to help people who need them most.

Aroostook County Action Program organized the potato picking event where the volunteers filled more than 3,000 ACAP 50th anniversary five-pound potato bags designed by Fort Kent artist Gert Thibodeau.

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