Great Plains Food Bank names Dream Center Bismarck, Steele County Food Pantry, Mountrail Community Food Pantry as its 2023 Agency of the Year award winners

Partners go above and beyond to show service, innovation and passion for those they serve

FARGO, N.D. – Demonstrating an exceptional commitment to the organization’s values of service, innovation and passion, the Great Plains Food Bank has officially named the Dream Center Bismarck, Steele County Food Pantry (Finley, N.D.) and the Mountrail Community Food Pantry (Stanley, N.D.) as its 2023 Agency of the Year award winners.

The Agency of the Year award is the highest honor given to the Great Plains Food Bank’s network of 200 food pantries, shelters and soup kitchens located throughout North Dakota and Clay County, Minnesota. These partners were nominated for their exceptional commitment to those they have served over the previous calendar year.

“It is impossible to overstate the importance our network of partner food pantries, shelters and soup kitchens have on our ability to provide food assistance to more than 156,000 individuals each year,” Great Plains Food Bank CEO Melissa Sobolik said. “A huge congratulations to Dream Center Bismarck, Steele County Food Pantry and Mountrail Community Food Pantry on winning these awards and thank you for the incredible impact you are making to help end hunger in your communities.”

Agencies are nominated for the Agency of the Year Award by members of the community, local businesses, civic organizations, volunteers or clients who believe the agency goes to extraordinary means to eliminate hunger.

Find more about each winner below.

Dream Center Bismarck – Service Award
Since becoming a Great Plains Food Bank partner in 2021, the Dream Center Bismarck has set a high standard for providing food assistance to neighbors experiencing hunger in the Bismarck-Mandan community and is this year’s Agency of the Year Award winner for service. Their various programs – Great Start Breakfast Program, Sack Lunch Program, Adopt-a-Block Food Distribution Program, The Banquet meal program and the Dream Center Food Pantry – were all strategically designed to offer food at all times along with access to additional necessary resources. Through each of its programs, the Dream Center Bismarck helped nearly 20,000 households and distributed 965,360 pounds of food in 2023 and is on pace to provide more than 1 million pounds of food in 2024.

From the Dream Center nomination: “You can come into the facility for all three reasons: Friendship, Fellowship and Food. This is a wonderful benefit to our community, and surrounding areas. There are so many programs available as well. There is no reason to go hungry because of the Dream Center, the Banquet, and all the programs available seven days a week.”

Steele County Food Pantry – Innovation Award
Providing food assistance to around 2,000 people in their community, the Steele County Food Pantry became a Great Plains Food Bank partner food pantry in 2007 and receives the Agency of the Year Award for innovation. Despite their smaller footprint, the Steele County Food Pantry provided more than 8,000 pounds of food last year alone to those in need. With an eagerness to find the most effective way possible to serve their community, they implemented a range of programs to target certain areas of need. Specifically, they created monthly meal bags assembled with products from inside the food pantry along with recipes for how to make a meal, offered local grocery store vouchers to help fill the gap for products they do not have, and offer holiday themed gift boxes.

From the Steele County Food Pantry nomination: “Their motto is ‘No one should go to bed hungry.’ They have doubled the individuals served since transitioning to new coordinators in 2022. They go above and beyond to offer delivery and accommodate to individual’s schedules, they implemented a texting service for simplified outreach, and they come up with unique ways to get donations by creating an Amazon registry or working with local organizations.”

Mountrail Community Food Pantry (Stanley, N.D.) – Passion Award
A Great Plains Food Bank partner food pantry for more than three decades, the Mountrail Community Food Pantry has become a staple to help feed numerous communities in need in northwestern North Dakota. They are the lone food pantry in all of Mountrail County and are counted on by individuals in Parshall, Plaza, New Town, Ross, White Earth, Palermo, Blaisdell, Stanley and the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. In 2023, Mountrail Community Food Pantry helped 1,430 households and distributed 134,022 pounds of food.

From the Mountrail County Food Pantry nomination: “They have built one of the most effective food pantries for a community this size. They have included a large number of local businesses who donate time and muscle to help out. They have created a ‘no judgment’ zone and offer respect and dignity to those who choose to visit their facility. Their compassion is unlimited. The community sees this happening and acknowledges the need for food pantries. They have brought an entire community (including county commissioners) to work together to feed the less fortunate among them.” 

About the Agency of the Year award
Each year the Great Plains Food Bank honors partner agencies – food pantries, shelters, soup kitchens – or feeding sites that have displayed exceptional service in the fight to end hunger over the previous calendar year. Partner agencies are nominated from clients and/or community members before being received and selected by the Great Plains Food Bank. Find a complete list of past winners HERE.

About the Great Plains Food Bank
Opening in March of 1983, the Great Plains Food Bank is currently celebrating its 40th year as an organization. Serving as North Dakota’s only food bank, the Great Plains Food Bank partners with nearly 200 food pantries, shelters, soup kitchens and other charitable feeding programs operating in 100 communities across N.D. and Clay County, Minn. Through its array of innovative direct service programs and partner network, the Great Plains Food Bank has distributed more than 200 million meals to children, seniors, and families in need since 1983. 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 in 2018 by the Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo Chamber of Commerce.

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