Soaring food and fuel prices have also hurt charities that help people in need.
“It has become a huge problem for us” said Connie Wilson, board member of Lord’s Cupboard Food Pantry in Minot.
Earlier this week, the Great Plains Food Bank in Fargo, which had been a major source of low-cost food at Lord’s Cupboard Food Pantry, located at 1725 Burdick Expressway West in Minot, announced that it planned to have 1 million pounds less of food to distribute to people in need in the current fiscal year. This represents more than 800,000 fewer meals provided to the needy. The Great Plains Food Bank attributed the shortfall to high prices and declining food donations.
Wilson said Lord’s Cupboard is trying to look elsewhere for food for the pantry, trying to spread its purchases to local grocery stores, but at much higher costs.
“It’s been extremely difficult to get meat and protein,” said Wilson, who said a truckload of pantry food, about 32,000 pounds, cost less than $2,000 a few years ago and now costs between $6,000 and $7,000.
Cheese and other types of protein are also harder to find.
The price of fruit and vegetables has also increased, but Lord’s Food Cupboard has its own garden and will harvest vegetables that can be served to customers, helping to keep costs down.
Other donations of supplies and money would be welcome.
The Lord’s Cupboard serves 1,400 households in County Ward each month. It is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Tuesdays from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. The organization also participates in United Way’s Door Dash program which delivers food to the homes of families who sign up for delivery. About 60 households per week participate.
The Office of the Lord does not refuse anyone who asks for help and does not require proof of income.
Community Action, which has an emergency food pantry, did not buy from the Great Plains Food Bank but is also being hit by rising prices for groceries and toiletries, said receptionist Cindy Clark.
Clark said she noticed the price of cans of the type with flip-top lids purchased for homeless customers without access to can openers had more than doubled in the past year.
The need has also increased with prices. Clark said Community Action served walk-in people, some of them people who moved to Minot without first finding a job or housing.
The group receives donations but more help would certainly be appreciated.
“There are many elements at work here that create challenges for the organization to meet the food needs of our neighbours,” Kate Molbert, chief operating officer of the Great Plains Food Bank. “We anticipate a significant food shortage this year, but we are working to innovate in the most effective way to fill this gap. We don’t want to paint the picture that there will be no food available. We will always be there to serve our food insecure neighbors who rely on our services every day. £1 million less equals 800,000 meals not available to our neighbors in need. If there ever was a time when the public can help us close this gap, it’s now. »
The Great Plains Food Bank distributed more than 13.4 million pounds of food in the most recent financial year, which runs from July to June each year. He said the expected shortfall of £1 million to be distributed in the current financial year is largely due to food donations from retailers, growers and manufacturers made to the Great Plains Food Bank having reached their lowest levels since 2018, when the organization served 30,000 fewer people than today.
The Great Plains Food Bank expects donations to decline in the current fiscal year and to help offset that shortfall, it is budgeting $2.2 million to purchase food this year, this which is by far the highest amount of any year in the organization’s 39-year history and double what was spent on food purchases in the past fiscal year. Additionally, approaches are being taken to acquire new growers, manufacturers and retail partners interested in donating food products to help alleviate these challenges.
The Great Plains Food Bank is North Dakota’s only food bank. Its network of partners includes 213 food pantries, shelters, soup kitchens and other charitable food programs operating in 99 communities across ND and Clay County, Minnesota.