To provide food for our neighbors facing hunger, the Great Plains Food Bank sources an average of 12 million pounds of food a year. Our food sourcing team leads the charge, securing a variety of food from hundreds of local, regional and national partners to meet the needs of our neighbors.
Donated food make up nearly two-thirds of the food sourced each year. The majority of which comes from our food retail partners.
To increase the amount of food available for distribution through our partner network of 192 food pantries, shelters and meal sites operating in 54 counties across North Dakota and Clay County, Minnesota, we work with this network to participate in our agency-enabled retail rescue initiative.
We train and equip our partner food pantries and meal sites with safe food handling tools so they can safely pick up, transport and store hundreds of thousands of pounds of surplus food from local retailers (restaurants, gas stations, bakeries and more), which greatly increases their capacity to distribute more food to anyone seeking assistance in our communities.
The Great Plains Food Bank’s agency-enabled food rescue effort extends our reach deeper into rural, often underserved communities, all while limiting food waste. This year, we anticipate 3.5 million pounds of food will be rescued and redistributed from our retail partners.
The Great Plains Food Bank also collaborates with a group of six food banks in neighboring states. This collective acquires large volumes of food from national sources throughout the country, then makes that product available to our partner network of food pantries, meal sites and emergency shelters.
Food Purchasing to fill the Food Gap
Food sourcing has become more difficult in the last few years. In large part, the global supply chain has not yet recovered from the impacts of the pandemic, and some items are still difficult to procure.
Additionally, sustained high costs are impacting our food industry partners. As a result, we are receiving fewer food donations. To fill the gap and ensure food is available for our neighbors seeking help, the Great Plains Food Bank is increasing our budget to purchase food.
Between 2020 and 2023, the Great Plains Food Bank’s food purchasing budget has grown from $1 million to $3 million annually, just to maintain our regular distribution poundage.
“We’re fighting a lot of headwinds in the donation streams,” Kate Molbert, Chief Operating Officer for the Great Plains Food Bank, says.
Some food is purchased with the Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement grant, a temporary program through USDA that runs through the North Dakota Department Agriculture. This grant allows us to purchase local foods like fresh produce, beef and milk to provide nutritious food to our neighbors, while also supporting our local producers and boosts the local economy. It really is a win – win!
The grant certainly helps fill some of the gap, but not all of it. That is why your partnership is so important. Your financial support truly helps fill the food gap.
How do Financial Gifts Help Source Food?
Your gifts to the Great Plains Food Bank help to make up the $3 million dollar difference between what is donated and what is needed.
Our food sourcing team diligently works to ensure funds are spent as strategically and efficiently as possible, while also meeting the needs of our communities.
“That’s really where my focus is,” says Stephanie Erickson, Great Plains Food Bank Food Resource Department Manager. “Ensuring that product [we] buy matches our partners’ wants and needs.”
Your gifts are an integral part of this process, and we truly could not source 12 million pounds of nutritious food without your support. Thank you for your incredible generosity!