Food Pantry Demand On The Rise

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One in ten people in our area seek help from local food pantries.

More than 20 pounds of food per person is wasted every month in the United States.

“Twenty-seven percent of all food produced in this country never makes it to the dinner table and so as a food bank our job is to recover that product and get it into the hands of those who need it,” says Marcia Paulson, Director of Marketing and Development at the Great Plains Food Bank.

And the number of people who do need it is growing.

“We had about 680 people come through the doors last year and this year so far we’ve had 751 in that same time frame. And my understanding is that even last year was well over the 2013 number,” says Stacie Loegering, Executive Director of the Emergency Food Pantry.

In the United States, every year 6 billion pounds of fresh produce is wasted. And officials say it’s in part because of how it looks.

“Some of the things that we’re used to are really pristine looking fruits and vegetables,” Loegering says.

“I think if we can educate folks to know that if it has a little bit of a bruise it’s okay and still highly nutritious. And for people that don’t have the means to purchase that product it’s a gift to have that item whether it be bruised or not,” says Paulson.

And the Great Plains Food Bank is giving that gift. They recover 3 billion pounds of fresh produce every year.

“As a food bank network we’re excited to be able to recover that product and here locally our farmers and our growers can help us with that,” Paulson says.

The North Dakota Ag Commissioner has challenged the state to continue this fight against food waste. He’s asking farmers and local growers to donate extra produce that they might have.

“We are willing to take donations of any excess from people’s gardens. We find people who don’t have fresh fruits and vegetables,” Loegering says.

So instead of throwing away food you might consider to be bad, donate it. It could make a big difference in someone’s life.

Although more than 81,000 people in North Dakota sought help last year, it is the closest state to becoming hunger free with the lowest food insecurity rate.