Coronavirus News: Friends team up to bring free food to New Yorkers

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- A truck carrying 43,000 pounds of potatoes from a farm in Idaho arrived in the Bronx Saturday.

It's the first shipment of food to arrive as part of quick-thinking efforts by a team of friends to get food that would otherwise go to waste to people in need.

It all started April 14, when Westchester County money manager John Botti saw a piece on ABC's "World News Tonight" about farmers across the U.S. who were pouring milk down the drain and watching vegetables rot in the fields -- a side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic gripping the world.

He decided to call a few friends the next day and eventually the idea of Farms to Food Banks was born. They would send semi-trailers to the nation's farms and bring back free food to people in need.

The truckload of potatoes was taken to the East Side House Settlement in the South Bronx which is in the poorest congregation district in the city which is struggling with food shortages.

"Many of our families are from the Mott Haven area of the South Bronx so they are struggling with food insecurity," Executive Director of East Side House Settlement Daniel Diaz said.

The truck was driven from Cranney Farms in Idaho to the Bronx by Army veteran Dave Lemon and warehouse space for the shipment of potatoes was provided by Zaro's Family Bakery.

"All of this food that we are packing up today and that we are sending out to our families will be distributed on Wednesday in 3 of our local community centers and we're thinking it's probably going to feed anywhere between 2,000 and 2,500 families," Diaz said.

As for Farms to Food Banks, they've got more shipments planned, including cabbage, potatoes and rice to food banks across New York.

They're doing whatever they can to support the farmers, as well -- they paid for the potatoes from Cranney Farms.

A Go Fund Me page they set up has already raised more $135,000.

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