Partners go above and beyond to show passion, service, innovation for those they serve
FARGO, N.D. – The Great Plains Food Bank has named the Garrison Area Resource Center and Food Pantry (GARC), Bottineau Food Pantry, and the Mercer Country Women’s Action and Resource Center (WARC) as its 2022 Agency of the Year Award winners. Each recipient truly epitomizes the organization’s core values of passion, service and innovation.
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.
“Our network of partners throughout the region are irreplaceable in our ability to distribute nearly 12 million pounds of food in a single year,” Great Plains Food Bank CEO Melissa Sobolik said. “We are thrilled to lift up these three organizations who consistently put the needs of their clients first. Congratulations to the GARC, Bottineau Food Pantry and Mercer County WARC for being recognized on this much deserved honor.”
Agencies are nominated for the Agency of the Year Award by members of the community, local businesses, civic organizations, volunteers or clients that believe the agency goes to extraordinary means to eliminate hunger.
You can find more about each of the three winners below.
Garrison Area Resource Center – Service Award
The GARC first began partnering with the Great Plains Food Bank in 2020 and made an immediate impact serving those in need in central North Dakota. Last year alone, the GARC distributed more than 123,000 pounds of food to 1,555 households and provided more than 4,000 individuals with needed food assistance, which is more than four times the number of people it helped in its first year. The GARC has been a valuable partner for the Great Plains Food Bank by offering availability to clients to visit their food pantry, accommodating Great Plains Food Bank Senior Food Pack Program and Mobile Food Pantry outreach and distributions and making quarterly distributions to neighbors in White Shield.
From GARC nomination: “I can’t tell you how many times we have needed them, and they don’t hesitate to be there or to help you out. They are so passionate about helping the community. (Pantry coordinator) Dawn (Kolden) does everything she can and more to see that people’s needs are met. They are really a godsend.”
Bottineau Food Pantry – Passion Award
A longstanding Great Plains Food Bank partner food pantry since 1989, the Bottineau Food Pantry has become a trusted source to feed those in need in northern North Dakota for decades. Last year alone, they distributed more than 112,000 pounds of food to 3,224 individuals. With incredible support from the community, the Bottineau Food Pantry is run by an army of volunteers – many that have been helping for more than a decade – with each showing passion to share in the Great Plains Food Bank mission to end hunger together. Priding itself on never canceling a distribution and always being available to those that need it, the Bottineau Food Pantry has created relationships “with nearly every entity in town” to distribute food to those in need including the high school, college, churches and the sheriff’s department.
From Bottineau Food Pantry Director Tim Schroeter: “We have never canceled a distribution day, no matter the weather, number of volunteers or even COVID! People need food no matter what life is throwing at us! We are available for “emergency” food needs 7 days a week and I’ve even enlisted our sheriff to deliver food boxes to rural clients that had no transportation. No matter what, if you need food we will get it to you!
Mercer County Women’s Action and Resource Center – Innovation Award
For more than four decades, the Mercer County WARC has been a vital resource encompassing a number of needs for the people of Mercer County, Oliver County and eastern Dunn County. A Great Plains Food Bank partner since 1989, the Mercer County WARC first opened its doors in 1982 and serves their communities as a food pantry, domestic violence crisis center and a 24/7 crisis hotline. In 2022, they distributed nearly 80,000 pounds of food to those in need, helping more than 1,000 households and an amazing 1,118 children. They were given the award for innovation for their ability to adapt and recognize that helping those that are struggling is not a one-size-fits-all approach.
From Mercer County WARC nomination: “I believe WARC deserves this nomination because they DO serve the community and the county. They take the need that comes in and meet it as a team of caring women. I feel they always go beyond and usually cover more than the main need. They find the food, blankets, clothing, gas money, furniture and extra that is needed.”
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.