Great Plains Food Bank, Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota
“Ending hunger is a shared responsibility,”
says Marcia Paulson, director of marketing and development at the Great Plains Food Bank. “Together we can make a huge impact on the lives of those who are currently hungry or at risk of hunger.”
Despite the economic growth in oil-producing communities and the fact that North Dakota is the nation’s leading producer of wheat, barley, dry edible beans and other crops, one in 11 North Dakotans seeks food assistance each year. The state’s vast expanse and low population density contribute to the challenges faced by efforts to make North Dakota hunger free.
The Great Plains Food Bank, a program of Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota, has been feeding children, seniors and working families for nearly 30 years. The program operates through a statewide network of 289 charitable feeding programs in 108 communities. It addresses the increased demand for food, unmet hunger needs and gaps in service by expanding food recovery efforts, extending food distribution to underserved communities, building capacity at partner feeding programs and strengthening collaboration between the charitable feeding network and federal nutrition programs. A two-year Otto Bremer Foundation grant is helping to support these strategies.
Over the first grant year, the Great Plains Food Bank made considerable progress in meeting, indeed often exceeding, its goals. The program secured an additional 1.3 million pounds of food, almost 2.5 times the amount targeted. It also extended food distribution to underserved communities by increasing the number of distribution sites and delivery programs.
In addition, the Food Bank has developed training programs—on food safety, fundraising, outreach and more—to build the capacity of partner feeding programs. It is in the process of launching a certification program to promote network-wide standards and recognize outstanding service. Finally, outreach activities and pre-screening assistance are helping clients understand the full range of resources available to them and strengthening the connections between the charitable food network and federal nutrition programs.
“Many of us at the Great Plains Food Bank think we have the best job in the world,” says Steve Sellent, program director. “We get to see amazing acts of generosity and compassion every day. And each of these acts allows us to touch the lives of those struggling with hunger in a very direct and meaningful way.”