The only food bank in N.D. may fall over 800,000 meals short of last year’s total while demand for food assistance remains high
FARGO, N.D. – Due to high food prices, high gas prices and historically low amounts of food currently being donated, the Great Plains Food Bank is forecasting it will have 1 million fewer pounds of food to distribute to those in need during the current fiscal year, which equates to over 800,000 fewer meals. The shortfall comes at a time when hunger impacts one in six individuals in the state of North Dakota.
With the widespread effect of inflation on the Great Plains Food Bank, its food and financial donors and especially clients, the organization is being faced with its biggest challenge since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There are many elements at work here that are creating challenges for the organization in meeting the hunger needs of our neighbors,” Great Plains Food Bank Chief Operating Officer Kate Molbert said. “We are anticipating a significant food shortfall this year, but are working to be innovative in ways we can best fill this gap. We don’t want to paint the picture that there won’t be food available. We will still be here to serve our neighbors living with food insecurity who rely on our services each day. 1 million pounds fewer equals 800,000 meals not available to our neighbors in need. If there ever was a time when the public can assist us in filling this gap, now is the time.”
Food donations plummeting
The Great Plains Food Bank distributed more than 13.4 million pounds of food during the most recent fiscal year, which runs from July until June each year. The forecasted 1 million pound deficit to be distributed this current fiscal year is due largely to the fact that food donations from retailers, growers and manufacturers made to the Great Plains Food Bank have reached their lowest levels since 2018, when the organization was serving 30,000 fewer individuals than it is today.
The Great Plains Food Bank expects donations to fall in the current fiscal year and to help offset that deficit is budgeting $2.2 million to purchase food this year, which is easily the largest amount in any year in the organization’s 39-year history and twice what was spent on food purchasing during the past fiscal year. Additionally, approaches are currently being taken to acquire new growers, manufacturers and retail partners interested in donating food product to help mitigate these challenges.
Demand remains high
Food prices are at their highest point in decades and this combined with high fuel costs has created a burden for those seeking food assistance. Many neighbors seeking emergency food assistance from the Great Plains Food Bank are already living paycheck-to-paycheck and are now being forced to pay more to fill their vehicles with gas and purchase a gallon of milk, which causes an even greater strain.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the price of food at home rose to 14.3 percent in June over the last year for those living in the Midwest region. Meanwhile, prior to the current uptick in inflation, nearly half of Great Plains Food Bank clients were already making the difficult choice between buying food or filling their car with gas.
How the public can help
With historically low amounts of food currently being donated and the Great Plains Food Bank forecasting a higher level of food purchasing needed to meet the nutritional needs of our neighbors living with hunger, contributions from the public will make a big difference at this time.
Financial donations will directly fund additional food purchasing and can be made at the link HERE.
Additionally, food donations are needed and can be made at the Great Plains Food Bank or one of our local food pantry partners. A complete list of each partner can be found HERE.