Local non-profit behind pile of potatoes in New Bern


NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT) — A few stray sweet potatoes are all that’s left of a 15,000 lb pile in the Craven Terrace neighborhood.

The group behind the spud stack is an organization the community knows well: Promise Place.

The New Bern based non-profit serves Craven, Jones, and Pamlico counties.

They offer resources for victims of sexual assault.

Their core services include trauma advocacy, mental health support, prevention education, and community outreach.

Community outreach is where the pile of sweet potatoes comes in.

“We have a partnership in this community so we can bridge that gap. We mostly focus on victims, but also are open to the community because we have to build that trust with the community,” said Joshua Chitalo, a representative from Promise Place.

“Food is just a component to start a conversation about mental health, about prevention, about outreach so they know they can get services.”

A Rocky Mount farmer reached out about donating some extra potatoes to the group.

People in the community picked up what they needed, then the farmer came back to retrieve the last ton of taters.

A local grocery store also donated 8,000 plastic bags to make it easier for people to take food home.

The group operates a food bank that distributes around 2,000 pounds of food every week.

People can pick up everything from chicken to canned goods every day.

“Often people have to choose whether they have to spend money on food or to spend money on gas and other services. So, we try to bridge that gap,” said Chitalo.

At the end of every month, they give away over 30,000 lbs of food to hundreds of people.

“We are here in the community to help the community.  If anyone wants sweet potatoes, milk, they want to volunteer to bag potatoes, anything they can contribute, they are welcome because the non-profit is for the community,” said Chitalo.

As far as the other piles of potatoes that went viral on social media, Chitalo said for some neighbors they’re a pretty regular sighting.

Area farmers will occasionally drop off piles at churches for members of the community to take.

For more information on Promise Place, click here.

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