STORIES OF HOPE
At the Great Plains Food Bank, we believe that no one should go hungry.
Each dollar or food item donated or volunteer hours generously given has an incredible impact on the more than 102,000 we serve each year. Here are just a few of their stories.
It was the first time 86-year-old Norma Voltz needed food assistance when she visited the Great Plains Food Bank Mobile Food Pantry when it stopped in Dodge. A close-knit family that includes her brothers, children, grand children and great grand children, they all experienced difficult times when Norma’s daughter suffered a serious accident. Assistance from the Mobile Food Pantry helped to provide food for two weeks at a much needed time.
Kasandra’s heart was heavy on her first visit to Ministry on the Margins in Bismarck, a partner agency of the Great Plains Food Bank, as she mourned the recent passing of the father of her seven-year-old daughter, Justice. Now maneuvering through life’s challenges as a single mother, she has relied on food assistance to help the young family get by. It’s difficult for her to imagine the situation they would be in without the help.
Dustin Erhart makes his $700 Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment last as long as he is able, but typically comes up short most months attempting the feed himself and his 17-year-old son, Gage. The single father has found a needed resource at Ministry on the Margins in Bismarck, a partner agency of the Great Plains Food Bank.
Joddie Samelson (shown left) appreciates the assistance of her son Matt (shown right) when she visits the Kidder County Food Pantry in Steele each month. Following a stroke, Joddie no longer has use of her right arm so the extra help is needed. Living on a fixed income, the food she receives through this Great Plains Food Bank partner agency can last her three weeks and she doesn’t know what she would do if it wasn’t an option.
Through a number of different circumstances, neighbors Phyllis Bauer and Dennis Hickman have formed a bond. A part of that friendship includes traveling together to the Great Plains Food Bank Mobile Food Pantry when it stops in Milnor. The food they are able to receive there lasts each of them a month and has helped Phyllis fill a void after her husband passed away last year.
Stricken with rheumatoid arthritis and advanced age, Matt Stubstad’s mother needs his full-time attention. Without serving as her primary caregiver, the alternative is that she be placed in a nursing home, which Matt doesn’t have the heart to do. Seeking needed food assistance through the Dorothy Day Food Pantry in West Fargo, a partner agency of the Great Plains Food Bank, has allowed Matt to continue to be the primary caregiver for his mother.
Mckenzie is quick to admit she doesn’t try to be a single mom to her special needs son, Zachary, all by herself. She leans on those close to her, including the Emergency Food Pantry, a partner agency of the Great Plains Food Bank, for help. Zachary is severely autistic with medical conditions that can make life for the small family difficult. Read about all those that have come to the side of the small family to help them get by.
A United States Army veteran, times get tough for Thomas Rude and his wife. Each struggle with medical issues and the couple sees their fixed income fall short at the end of most months. They find the Great Plains Food Bank Mobile Food Pantry provides a boost each time it stops in Rugby.
There are times when there is not enough food in the house to feed LoShay’s family of six. Both her parents work hard, but still struggle to put enough food on the table. A backpack LoShay receives each week from the Great Plains Food Bank helps supplement those times when food is scarce.
A father of four, Patrick Schmid and his wife were financially stable until the demand of too many years spent in physical labor took its toll on Patrick. Following two shattered hips and other physical ailments, Patrick became unable to work and began collecting disability payments, but the loss of income became too great. The family sought emergency food assistance while Patrick also went the extra mile in helping others.
Previously homeless, Murphy has learned the importance of balancing her finances on a limited income. And even with being frugal with her budget, she still falls short at the end of some months. Food assistance through the Great Plains Food Bank partner agency network has helped her stretch her income as far as she can.
Gardening has been a part of Harka Maya Monger’s life since birth in the country of Buhtan. Now the low-income family of five lives in Fargo where Harka’s local community garden has allowed her to continue gardening. This along with assistance from a Great Plains Food Bank partner food pantry allows the family the nutrition they need.
Financially, Tayla Henry was comfortable and able to provide for her two young kids. But that all changed the day her children’s father moved out and the now single mom struggled with food insecurity. She soon found a supplement for the loss of meals at the Emergency Food Pantry in Fargo, a partner agency of the Great Plains Food Bank.
Midway Public School serves a number of rural communities in east-central North Dakota. Many of its students and their families need to travel more than 20 miles to visit a grocery store. The addition of a school pantry has helped Midway fill a need for many of its students.
Due to difficult circumstances, Stephanie Ballou cares for three of her grandchildren and they are quick to understand that, “grandma doesn’t have enough money right now.” Thanks to her nearest Great Plains Food Bank partner food pantry, she is able to provide healthy food options for her grand kids.
Ashley Brager does everything she can to help her 5-year-old son with autism not cry out over hunger. There is no worse sound in the world as far as Ashley is concerned. While struggling with mental health issues herself, when times are difficult she finds needed resources within a pair of Great Plains Food Bank partner food pantries to help the young family get by.
Donna Ricker has been the primary caregiver for her daughter, Jodahna, who is stricken with spastic cerebral palsy, for nearly four decades. For assistance through years of difficult times, the two have utilized the Great Plains Food Bank partner agency network for help. And they remained thankful for all that they have to this day.
Each weekday you can find Arge Laddusaw volunteering at the Emergency Food Pantry in Fargo, a partner agency of the Great Plains Food Bank. Forced into retirement due to health reasons and with a Social Security and SNAP payment that only takes him so far, Arge also visits the Emergency Food Pantry to receive needed food assistance. Spending time volunteering is his way of giving back.
Amanda Jackson knows the feeling of being homeless all too well. That feeling is compounded when attempting to offer a life of opportunity for her nine-year-old daughter, who struggles with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). But despite struggles that would break a lot of families, Amanda and her daughter, Kylen, remain positive saying simply, “what else can you do?”
Life hasn’t always been as steady as it is right now for Barbara Villella and due to a series of unfortunate events in her past, she knows that she is always one paycheck away from needing food assistance again. She now spends a lot of her time at the Prairie Roots Food Co-op advocating for healthy food options for those in need.
Julie Herbel works as a librarian at the New Town Public Library. She noticed many children were coming in hungry after school each day and wished to do something about it. But she struggled to find the healthy food options she desired. The Great Plains Food Bank Pop-up Perishable Food Program has provided those resources and has helped fill a critical need for hungry children in New Town.
Noella Thomas’ grandmother passed down to her the tradition of hosting a large family dinner each Sunday night. It’s important to her she continue the tradition, but there are months when it takes a toll on the family’s food supply. Noella has found benefits from a Great Plains Food Bank partner agency to fill fill the void and allow her to continue a tradition.
Xavier Harvey was living in South Carolina when he was the victim of gun violence and needed to relocate. He came to Fargo where he settled now with a wife and three children. With a full household, the family struggles from time to time to come up with enough food. The Emergency Food Pantry, a partner agency of the Great Plains Food Bank, has provided a supplement when the family falls short.
Marsha Bachman arrived at a Great Plains Food Bank Pop-up Perishable Food Program distribution with a $20 bill. What food she wasn’t able to collect at the distribution the $20 would need to cover when she went to the grocery story later. The food program allowed Marsha to make her grocery money stretch farther.
Kari Thomas is sometimes able to go a few months between visits to her local food pantry, but other months their cupboards get bare and are in need of help. When the months come when the cupboards become bare, Kari has found useful food assistance from a pair of Great Plains Food Bank programs and services – a partner food pantry and BackPack Program.
When John Fjestad Byklum hears the sterotype that receiving food assistance is just, as he puts it, a “free hand out,” he is quick to explain how much it helps his family of five. “It helps us to survive,” he responds. Through his local food pantry and the Great Plains Food Bank BackPack Program, John is able to come up with enough food to feed his family.
Medical issues currently prevent William Andrews, commonly known as “Willy,” from working. Money became tight for his family of four when he suffered a stroke. He found food assistance through the Great Plains Food Bank partner agency network that has helped to fill a critical void.
Kristine Christensen says her two adopted grandsons would eat around the clock if she would let them. The 53-year-old has been on disability since 2004 and is constantly running out of food items for the household. Without the assistance from her local food pantry, she states simply, “we would be hungry.”
A widowed 81-year-old grandmother and great grandmother, Rose Kurst paints a picture that is all too common for many North Dakota seniors. With a monthly Social Security check as her main source of income, she is often forced to make difficult choices between paying for food and paying for other necessities. Her local food pantry helps her in difficult times.
Debra Way had a life she was proud of. Working as a general manager at a restaurant, her future husband and her were planning the rest of their lives together when tough times struck. She quickly found herself in need of help in the midst of a battle with chronic depression and suicide. Food assistance has provided her a means to get by.