Great Plains Food Bank, partner network of feeding programs see record-breaking year

Unprecedented 156,479 individuals served last year is higher than numbers seen during COVID-19 pandemic; 1 in 5 across North Dakota, Clay County, Minn., sought food assistance

FARGO N.D. – A total of 156,479 individuals turned to the Great Plains Food Bank and their network of feeding programs for food assistance in 2023. An alarming statistic, it is the highest single-year total in the organization’s 40-year history. With the increase in numbers, the Great Plains Food Bank helped one in five individuals and one in three children across the state of North Dakota and Clay County, Minn., last year.

In 2020, a year ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Plains Food Bank served 145,587 individuals, which was the previous record for individuals served, and equated to one in six individuals in the region. This year’s numbers are 7% higher than at the height of the pandemic and 13% higher than 2022, with a total of 138,439 individuals served.   

“These are truly telling numbers and paints a picture of the struggles our hungry neighbors currently face,” Great Plains Food Bank CEO Melissa Sobolik said. “Our neighbors are still seeing the economic impacts of inflation and high food prices and it’s continuing to have devastating effects on those struggling to make ends meet. This isn’t a record-breaking celebration, instead it’s a call to action. While I am incredibly proud of our organization for stepping up to meet this unprecedented demand, we can’t do it alone. Now is the time to join us, get engaged and help to end hunger together.”

The amount of food distributed in 2023 increased by 16 percent over the previous year to more than 13.4 million pounds. Despite continued historically low amounts of food being donated, the Great Plains Food Bank found means to source 1.5 million more pounds of food last year than 2022. Additionally, through its programs and services, the Great Plains Food Bank is now reaching more food insecure individuals than ever before.

The Great Plains Food Bank needs the help of the public to stay ahead of the high demand for food assistance. Donations are currently being matched and can be made now to the Great Plains Food Bank for Giving Hearts Day

Great Plains Food Bank trends

  • The 156,479 individuals served in 2023 was the single highest total in the 40-year history of the Great Plains Food Bank, a more than seven percent increase than 2020.
  • For the first time in its history, the Great Plains Food Bank is serving one in five individuals and one in three children across North Dakota and Clay County, Minn.
  • The Great Plains Food Bank saw a 13% increase in need of food assistance and a 16 percent increase in the amount of food distributed from 2022 to 2023.
  • Combined, Cass and Clay Counties saw a 29% increase in the number of individuals served while Burleigh County and Morton County witnessed more than a 50 percent increase in the total number of individuals served.
  • The food distributed to North Dakota Indian Reservations increased 38% percent, to over 1 million pounds.

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.

Twitter: @NDFoodBank
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Great Plains Food Bank
attn. Development Associate
1720 3rd Ave N
Fargo, ND 58102

Phone: 701-476-9120


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