FARGO, N.D. – For their commitment and extraordinary effort to end hunger within their communities, the Great Plains Food Bank has named Gate City Bank, Border States Electric, Aaron Becher and former U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp as their 2018 Hunger Relief Champions. Each recipient has displayed an exceptional commitment to the Great Plains Food Bank’s mission of ending hunger through community partnerships and shares in their values of doing all things through passion, service and innovation.
“Each of these organizations and individuals truly epitomize our values and are incredibly deserving of being named 2018 Hunger Relief Champions, which is the highest honor we award each year,” Great Plains Food Bank CEO Steve Sellent said. “Gate City Bank, Border States Electric, Aaron Becher and Heidi Heitkamp have all made a major impact in our work to end hunger by sharing their time, talents and resources in truly remarkable ways.”
Gate City Bank
Through food and financial donations, volunteering and in-kind gifts, Gate City Bank has been among the largest supporters of the Great Plains Food Bank in recent years. They are currently in the midst of a $250,000 long-term commitment to the Great Plains Food Bank’s Feed the Future campaign and have provided support for hunger-relief programs and services since 1999. In 2017, Gate City Bank presented the Great Plains Food Bank with a newly designed semi-trailer for its fleet of seven trucks travelling a combined 500,000 miles annually. Additionally, employees from their 36 locations throughout North Dakota and western Minnesota have been regular volunteers at Great Plains Food Bank Mobile Food Pantry and Pop-up Perishable Food Program distributions along with regularly conducting local food drives.
Border States Electric
Through volunteering, food and financial donations and regular involvement with Great Plains Food Bank signature events, Border States Electric has played an active role in the fight to end hunger for more than a decade. Since 2005, their involvement with Great Plains Food Bank events such as Canstruction, Giving Hearts Day, Chefs’ Gala and food and funds drives, Border States Electric has donated more than $117,000, which is enough to supply more than 350,000 meals to help those in need. They also provided a lead gift for the Feed the Future campaign, supplied in-kind videographer support and employees have given a total of 522 volunteer hours since 2016.
Becher has played a major role in the advancement of the Great Plains Food Bank over the last seven years. He has served on the Great Plains Food Bank Board of Directors since 2012, which also included serving as board chair during fiscal years 2015 and 2016. He currently serves on the cabinet for the Feed the Future campaign and has previously held multiple leadership roles within the organization’s board of directors. As board-chair, Becher was instrumental in moving the Great Plains Food Bank to becoming an independent organization and has seen the organization increase its food capacity by nearly 5 million meals annually during his time as a member of the board of directors. Becher currently serves as the vice president of newspaper operations with Forum Communications.
Heidi Heitkamp, former U.S. Senator
As a former United States Senator from North Dakota, Heitkamp was a true champion of hunger relief efforts and federal nutrition programs. As a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, she advocated for a strong nutrition title in the 2018 Farm Bill; even sharing stories of North Dakotans on SNAP during a Senator floor speech. Due in part to Heitkamp’s leadership, the version of the Farm Bill that overwhelmingly passed the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives protected the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and included investments in job training, with an additional $206 million in funding over the next 10 years for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). During her time in office, she also spent time volunteering at Great Plains Food Bank food distributions and has been a consistent advocate for strong food assistance programs for those in need across North Dakota and the nation.
About the Hunger Relief Champions award
First created in 2008, the Hunger Relief Champion Award recognizes individuals, businesses, churches or organizations for their extraordinary contributions and commitment to end hunger. These honorees are acknowledged for their longtime partnerships with the Great Plains Food Bank, their creativity and organization-wide commitment, for being innovators and solution focused, and for extending an invitation to employees, customers and other like-minded community entities to join them in their work to alleviate hunger. A complete list of past winners can be found HERE.
About the Great Plains Food Bank
Now it its 35th year, the Great Plains Food Bank serves as North Dakota’s only food bank. Its partner network includes 213 food pantries, shelters, soup kitchens, and other charitable feeding programs operating in 99 communities across N.D. and Clay County, Minn. Since 1983, the Great Plains Food Bank, through its partners and programs, have distributed more than 162 million meals to children, seniors, and families in need. The Great Plains Food Bank is a member of Feeding America, the nation’s food bank network and was named the Not-for-Profit of the Year for 2018 by the Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo Chamber of Commerce.