November 4, 2009

Food Bank helps feed the area’s hungry

By Tina Foreman
Farmer Staff Writer

One 40-pound box of food may not seem like a lot, but for people on a limited income and struggling families it is something worth waiting in line for.
On Tuesday, Oct. 27, the Great Plains Food Bank’s Mobile Food Pantry made a stop at the McKenzie County Fairgrounds where individuals and families waited in line for as long as 1½ hours for their chance to receive a 40-lb. box of dry goods, one bag of frozen food and a bag containing six rolls of toilet paper for each family member.
“There were 450 cases of food in the semi and about 400 went out to families in Watford City,” says Marcia Hellandsaas, NDSU Extension agent. “The process is really easy.  Participants fill out a short form including their name and the names of those in their home, sign it certifying that they meet the income guidelines, and someone loads the food into their vehicle.”
The Great Plains Food Bank’s Mobile Food Pantry comes from Fargo thanks to money allotted during the last legislative session.
“A Mobile Food Pantry is essentially a food pantry on wheels, much like a bookmobile,” says Holly Flatau, Great Plains Food Bank Outreach coordinator. “A truck comes into your community loaded with pre-packed food baskets from the Great Plains Food Bank and it’s distributed to those who need assistance.”
The purpose of the Mobile Food Pantry is to supplement the food that is already regularly available to people. Mobile food pantries do not take the place of food pantries; instead they partner with them to end hunger.
The Great Plains Food Bank is North Dakota’s largest hunger-relief organization, distributing more than five million pounds of food each year to 230 food shelves, homeless shelters, soup kitchens and other non-profit feeding programs in 80 communities across North Dakota and in Clay County of Minnesota.
Most of the product distributed by the Great Plains Food Bank is surplus food donated by the local, regional and national food industry. Hundreds of food companies donate food that is overproduced, incorrectly labeled or packaged, or nearing the end of its shelf-life.
The Mobile Food Bank will make its next stop in Watford City sometime in January 2010. In the mean-time, families needing food assistance can contact the Watford City Food Pantry at 444-3244.
For more information on the Mobile Food Pantry, contact Missy Sobolik, director of Member & Client Services at the Great Plains Food Bank.  Call 701-232-6219 or email