APRE celebrates one-year anniversary
The Alliance for Potato Research and Education (APRE) will celebrate its one-year anniversary on June 20.
We caught up with Maureen Storey, APRE president and CEO, one day after she returned from giving a presentation on the global obesity crisis at the World Potato Congress (WPC) in Edinburgh, Scotland.
It’s been a busy and productive inaugural year for Storey as she leads APRE in its development into a leader in science-based research on nutrition and diet in the potato industry. She is enthusiastic — not only about progress during the past year, but of APRE’s future potential.
“What could be more fun than developing a new organization and setting its path and tone for the future?” Storey asked. “I think that APRE has even greater potential than I saw last year and I think there is greater potential for expanding out even globally.”
Storey’s recent presentation at the WPC gives
APRE a toehold in the international sphere of potato industry research.
“I think science really travels worldwide,” Storey said. “There are opportunities for the alliance to work with colleagues around the world to help make sure that the science on potatoes and potatoes in all forms gets out to everybody.”
Through her travels, Storey has found health professionals, scientists and nutritionists receptive to the message she brings.
“One of the things that APRE is trying to do is to share the science, because when I’ve done that, people’s reaction is, ‘Wow, I did not know that,’” she said. “And that’s very important to set the record straight.”
APRE membership is currently composed of five potato processors — McCain Foods, J.R. Simplot, ConAgra Lamb-Weston, Cavendish and Heinz — along with the National Potato Council and the United States Potato Board grower groups. Storey said she is working to expand APRE’s membership by reaching out to other organizations including quick service restaurants and associated industries.
The biggest obstacle to recruiting additional members, though, is the relative newness of APRE and resulting anonymity within the food industry, Storey explained.
“It’s a tough road,” Storey said. “As a new organization, you want to have enough activity in your tool belt so that you can attract other organizations. The other allied industries want to understand what programs you have before they want to sign up.”
June 20 represents not only APRE’s first anniversary, but the hoped-for debut of its website. That will also expand the organization’s reach and visibility.
“Launching a website from scratch is a bigger initiative than I had ever imagined,” Storey said. “As a science-based organization, you need to be extraordinarily careful in what you put out there, because you want everything to be right.”
Over the past year, APRE has awarded a number of unrestricted grants. One was with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) for its “Kids Eat Right” program. AND awarded 50 grants for dieticians to make presentations in their communities on the importance of family mealtime.
APRE also has partnered with the USDA in the “MyPlate: Make Half Your Plate Fruits and Vegetables” promotion as well as helping to emphasize portion sizes that fit individual lifestyles.
In addition, APRE has provided a grant to Purdue University for a forum to be held later this month on the nutritional value of white vegetables.
Along the way, Storey said her travels have brought home the fact that potatoes are universally viewed as an enjoyable and necessary part of a regular diet.
“No matter where I go, people love potatoes and they love to love potatoes,” Storey said. “So I think when presented with science, it is almost like there’s a sigh of relief that it’s OK to really like potatoes.”