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Hunger In ND Study Results Released

Contact: Marcia Paulson

More than 66,700 people turn to Great Plains Food Bank and partner network to ensure they have food on the table
“Hunger in America 2014” study reveals the current face of hunger in the region

Fargo - September 4, 2014—A new study by the Great Plains Food Bank, a program of Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota, and Feeding America shows that an estimated 66,700 (unduplicated) people in North Dakota and Clay County, Minn., turn to food pantries and meal service programs over the course of a year to feed themselves and their families—31% are children and 7% are elderly.

Hunger in America 2014 is the largest and most comprehensive study of people seeking food assistance in the United States ever conducted. The study documents household demographics and offers a snapshot of the people served by the Great Plains Food Bank, their circumstances, the challenges they face and the choices they are forced to make living on extremely limited household incomes. It is also the first nationally representative study that assesses the prevalence of past and current members of the U.S. Military.

Nationally, the study found that more than 46 million people turn to agencies and programs of the Feeding America network of food banks every year. The Great Plains Food Bank has been a member of the Feeding America network since 1983.

“The results of this study show us that the face of hunger is one we might recognize,” said Steve Sellent, program director for the Great Plains Food Bank. “Many of our neighbors who are seeking food assistance have jobs, raise families, work toward education and struggle with health problems, like all of us. Too often, our clients also have to make difficult choices and trade-offs to get enough food for their families. As we honor Hunger Action Month this September, it is important to remember the critical work that the Great Plains Food Bank and our statewide network of partner feeding programs do every day, and how much more we can do together to solve hunger in North Dakota and Clay County, Minn.”

Key statistics from the report include:

• 72% of households have at least one member who has been employed in the past year.
• 58% of households live below the poverty line; 43% earn less than $10,000 annually.
• 20% report having a two-year degree or some college; 10% have a four-year degree or higher;
22% did not complete high school.
• 12% of households include grandparents who are caring for their grandchildren.
• 16% of households include someone who is a veteran or who has ever served in the military;
7% of household members are actively serving.
• 19% live in temporary housing.
• 56% of clients also receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits; while 81% are potentially income eligible.
• Among households with school-age children, 97% and 51%, respectively, participate in the free/reduced school lunch and breakfast programs.

• 61% report choosing between paying for food and paying for medicine/medical care.
• 22% of households include a member with diabetes.
• 33% of households have a member with high blood pressure.
• 47% of households lack health insurance of any kind; 56% have unpaid medical bills.

• 64 % of clients report reducing the size of their meals or skipping meals altogether.
• 68 % ate less than they know they should.
• 77% of clients couldn’t afford to eat balanced meals.
• 62% report choosing between paying for food and paying for utilities.
• 62% report making choices between paying for food and paying for transportation.
• 54% report choosing between paying for food and paying for housing.

More than 57% of households reported using three or more coping strategies for getting enough food in the past 12 months. The frequency of these strategies among all households includes:
• 16% report growing food in a garden;
• 31% report pawning or selling personal property;
• 80% report purchasing inexpensive, unhealthy food;
• 28% report watering down food or drinks;
• 53% report receiving help from friends or family.

• 57% of agencies saw an increase in the volume of clients served over the past year.
• 43% of Great Plains Food Bank partner feeding agencies employ no paid staff/are operated exclusively by volunteers.
• 54% of partner agencies report they had some or a lot of difficulty getting volunteers in the past year.
• 78% of agencies report that if they were no longer able to receive food from the Great Plains Food Bank, it would have a major effect on their operations.

Data from two surveys comprise the basis for Hunger in America 2014. An agency survey was electronically administered to nearly 200 Great Plains Food Bank partner agencies (soup kitchens, shelters, food pantries, other low income meal programs) and contained questions about services offered, capacity to meet need and food distribution efforts. Secondly, trained data collectors visited 66 randomly selected partner emergency feeding programs and meal sites to administer the client survey utilizing touch screen tablet computers. More than 250 clients answered questions about themselves, their households and the circumstances that led them to seek food assistance. Nationally, more than 60,000 clients were surveyed at 12,500 food programs; 32,000 partner agencies completed the agency survey.

The Great Plains Food Bank will use data collected to guide the development of programs and solutions that improve food security for individuals and their households, and inform public awareness and policy development addressing hunger in North Dakota and across the United States.

The full national report is available at

The Great Plains Food Bank serves as the state’s only food bank. Its partner network includes 321
programs – food pantries, shelters, soup kitchens and other charitable feeding programs – operating in
113 communities across N.D. and Clay County, Minn. Since 1983 the Great Plains Food Bank and its
partners have distributed food for more than 107 million meals to children, seniors, and families in need.
The Great Plains Food Bank is a program of Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota, a statewide social
services agency serving thousands of North Dakotans in need with affordable housing, food, disaster
recovery, counseling, therapy, and other programs that strengthen individuals, families and communities
without regard to clients’ race, religion, gender or economic status. It is also a member of Feeding
America, the nation’s food bank network.


© Great Plains Food Bank 2021