Mobile food bank fills gap for those in need

THE GREAT PLAINS FOOD BANK Mobile Food Pantry stopped in Drayton, N.D., on Thursday, Jan. 9. Volunteers from the Drayton community helped distribute the food. The mobile food pantry serves people who are unable to afford groceries, whether they are from North Dakota or elsewhere. The mobile pantry parked at the Ewing Cenex Station and served 37 households including 24 children, 47 adults and 21 seniors from Drayton, Grafton, Bathgate, Crystal, Mountain, Grand Forks and Cavalier in North Dakota, and Hallock and Lake Bronson in Minnesota, according to Anna Johnson, regional service manager for Great Plains.
(Submitted photo)

By Anna Jauhola
Just across the Red River in Pembina County, a mobile food bank stopped for the first time in Drayton last week.
The Great Plains Food Bank, based in Fargo, started using mobile food pantries in 2008. They are a part of the rural outreach program to enter communities on a quarterly basis to help with short-term hunger solutions.
“The end goal is to create long-term community based solutions,” said Anna Johnson, regional service manager for Great Plains.
The mobile food pantry and pop-up perishable trucks are similar. They are both drive-through services. Each person fills out a short form, waits in their vehicle and receives a box of shelf-stable food items along with some perishable items. The pop-ups offer perishable items only.
“The food banking and food pantry world has changed and we’re seeing more fresh product,” Johnson said. “The pop-ups were created in the last two years to help us distribute that food before it went bad.”
Great Plains saw a need in the Drayton area and heard from the area hunger relief champion, Kallie Christenson, that there was a need. Most of the food distributed by Great Plains Food Bank come from a USDA commodities program, other food banks around the country and local growers.
“So, we have a lot of potatoes here,” Johnson said.
At the event last week in Drayton, they served 30 households that came from Drayton, Grafton, Bathgate, Crystal, Mountain, Grand Forks and Cavalier in North Dakota, and from Hallock and Lake Bronson in Minnesota.
“From what I’ve seen, the mobile food pantry has brought awareness to hunger relief. People don’t always understand there are hungry people in their communities,” Johnson said. “So when they see the line of 50 cars down the street at the mobile food pantry, it opens their eyes. And then, we’ve seen new pantries and partnerships pop up because of them.”

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