Eastern Idaho is home to the famous Idaho potato, and on Wednesday, the area got a little validation when the Great Big Idaho Potato Truck made its debut in at the Ag Expo in Pocatello.
The Idaho Potato Commission was there to say the truck is more than just a giant spud structure. Frank Muir, president and CEO of the Idaho Potato Commission, said the tuber has been helping the economy grow.
"It represents over $4 billion in revenue to the state annually. It's over 30,000 jobs and our revenue has increased year by year for the past eight years for potatoes. It's very important for the economy here," Muir said.
Since the commission is celebrating its 75th anniversary, it's passing on some of those good graces to the local Meals on Wheels program. Muir donated a month's supply -- 300 pounds -- of potatoes to the Southeastern Idaho Community Action Agency.
"This donation is huge. We stretch our dollar every way we possibly can, and any donations we get just makes us serve more people," said Helen Mayberry, SEICAA senior services director.
Last year, SEICAA's Meals on Wheels served 48,000 meals, and on Monday, drivers were out serving, checking on and spending time with 150 area seniors. Mayberry said it's a life-saving service.
"And really, most of our clients, they're such meat and potatoes people that they love getting potatoes, so this is a good one for them," she said.
The truck, named Miss Idaho in honor of the pageant queen, is leaving behind the donations and will be taking off in the spring. After the spud leaves the Gem State, Miss Idaho is going on a cross-country tour, bringing potatoes to people across America.
"Then, we'll be headed up to Washington, D.C., to remind legislators to keep potatoes on school lunch programs," said Muir.
That is a huge part of keeping those 30,000 jobs in Idaho, Muir said, so he'll be plugging spud nutrition.
"They've forgotten that they're loaded with vitamin C, with potassium, with all sorts of micro-nutrients, and they have no fat and no cholesterol. So this is our way of reminding people, yeah it might be big, but it's very nutritious," he said.
"It's a cool truck. I'd like to see a slab of butter up there, but you know, that's just me," Mayberry said with a laugh.