Great Plains Food Bank Response: COVID-19
The Great Plains Food Bank is in daily contact with our partner food pantries, shelters and soup kitchens, health organizations, legislators and the Feeding America network of 200 food banks nationwide to determine how to best fill the critical needs of hungry children, seniors and families during this difficult time, while maintaining the health of our its staff and volunteers and clients.
The Great Plains Food Bank’s current operations including our Mobile Food Pantry distributions and regular food recovery and distribution efforts will continue as planned. We are taking steps necessary for the likely event we will continue to see an increase in emergency food assistance and decrease in both volunteers and food donations moving forward. We have also partnered with the USDA distributing food boxes throughout North Dakota and western Minnesota through the Farmers to Families Food Box Program.
You can make the difference to ensure we can help those in need during these trying times by making a gift below and volunteering your time.
How can the public help?
Our mission is to end hunger through community partnerships and there is not greater time for members of the community to lend a hand then now.
There are multiple ways that you can help:
- Monetary donations to the Great Plains Food Bank are always needed and is a resource that we are able to stretch very far. For each dollar donated, we can provide three meals for someone in need. Consider a gift to the Great Plains Food Bank HERE.
- You can also host your own COVID-19 virtual food drive to benefit those in need during this difficult time to benefit the Great Plains Food Bank. Find a link to register your own virtual food drive HERE.
- We will continue to need and value the time of volunteers to help provide this service (read more specifics on volunteers above). Click to volunteer HERE.
- Individuals can also host their own food drives and donate those items. Find more information on hosting a food and funds drive HERE.
How are we responding?
CLIENTS: We are working diligently with our network of more than 200 partner food pantries, shelters and soup kitchens in our region to be certain we are doing all that we can to be sure they have resources they need to meet the increased demand. We are also continuing full operation of our Mobile Food Pantry to be able to offer this service to those in need during this difficult time.
EMERGENCY FOOD ASSISTANCE: We continue to monitor the needs of our clients and are taking steps toward providing emergency food assistance when and if it will be needed.
USDA FARMERS TO FAMILIES FOOD BOX PROGRAM: We have been able to partner with the U.S. Department of Agriculture distributing food through their Farmers to Families Food Box Program. Distributions are happening throughout the state and into western Minnesota getting fresh produce into the hands of those impacted most by COVID-19. The program is bringing more than 1 million pounds of fresh produce into the region each month. Find a complete list of distributions of the Farmers to Families Food Box Program HERE.
VOLUNTEERS: We are currently in need of volunteers and ask any volunteer to continue to give their time as long as they meet strict guidelines. For the time-being, our volunteer force will continue working diligently inside the Great Plains Food Bank under heightened sanitary precautions. If any volunteer is not feeling well or has traveled to a highly impacted area, they are being asked to cancel their volunteer shift and reschedule for a later time. All our volunteers are required to wear gloves while volunteering and are required to wash their hands before handling any food product. This will be monitored especially closely during this difficult time.
We are limiting the size of volunteer groups to 10 individuals or less. Volunteer groups of up to 20 people are able to volunteer, but will be broken into groups of 10 or fewer and placed in separate room during their time with us. Places for volunteers inside the repack center are marked off to ensure a safe distance is being placed between each individual.
As of April 13, we are requiring that all volunteers wear masks while they are inside the Great Plains Food Bank warehouse. Due to a lack of access to masks, we are asking that volunteers bring a mask with them to volunteer.
SNAP: During difficult times, we have experienced an increased number of applications through our Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) outreach work. We are committed to assisting those that qualify for the SNAP program are able to receive it. If you are in need of SNAP assistance or would like to determine if you qualify, call the SNAP hotline at 855-405-0000. Find more information HERE.
QUARANTINE: From the North Dakota Emergency Operations Center, if someone needs quarantine with no other options call the North Dakota Department of Corrections at 701-328-0707 and they can assist in finding an alternative short-term quarantine location.
Is COVID-19 transferable through food product?
According to Feeding America, the virus is not transmitted through food or water. It is transmitted primarily through close personal contact.
From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets. Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food. Before preparing or eating food, it is important to always wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds for general food safety. Throughout the day, wash your hands after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, or going to the bathroom. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from food products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient, refrigerated, or frozen temperatures.