Don Armstrong, the main force behind the giveaway for the past five years, said it’s become “almost prohibitive to do” as food prices rise and fewer companies and organizations step forward to help out.
Each giveaway costs about $20,000 to stage, said Armstrong, president and owner of Armstrong Potatoes LLC. Although community members donate for the event, the rest falls on he and his wife, Vera. The Grand Haven Township resident said they have reached a point in their lives where they can’t afford to contribute that much anymore, but they will continue to donate to local charities and food pantries.
Don Armstrong said he’s heard stories from community members at the giveaway talking about how they didn’t have food in their cupboard, but they walked away with enough to fill their shelves.
“It hurts because it was a great deal when we started this,” he said. “I hate it that we’re not having it.”
The Grand Haven Eagles Club has been the Armstrongs' main partner in organizing the giveaways. Last year’s event also had assistance from three local banks, the Grand Haven Lions Club, the local American Legion and Path Stone Realty.
In addition to the five annual giveaways in Grand Haven, Armstrong said they have sponsored two similar events in his hometown in Minnesota. He said they also give out canned goods during Grand Haven’s Jingle Bell Parade in December.
During last year’s event on Harbor Island, volunteers packed about 900 car trunks full of potatoes, apples, carrots, pumpkins and canned foods.
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