Washington is number two in the nation when it comes to growing potatoes, sitting behind only Idaho.
The Washington State Potato Commission says a billion pounds of russet potatoes that would normally become French fries and hash browns are just sitting in warehouses that would need to empty out just ahead of the July harvest.
The organization is instead handing out the surplus for free to Washington residents, 100,000 pounds at a time.
Reuters quotes Brandy Tucker, the director of marketing for the commission, as saying, “Everyone in Washington would have to eat 500 pounds of potatoes from now until the Fourth of July to clear our pipeline.”
About 90 percent of Washington’s potato crop is processed for food service industries, nearly half of which is international markets.
The commission is planning over a dozen donation events before the end of this month.
However, even giving them away comes at a cost because of washing, bagging, and shipping the spuds.
The USDA says it will buy an additional $470 million in excess food, which includes $50 million worth of potatoes, to give to the nation’s food banks.