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Great Plains Food Bank opens Bismarck regional service center

Dave Thompson
Prairie Public

The Great Plains Food Bank has opened its new regional service center in Bismarck.

"Our new regional service center will allow us to expand and enhance our program and operations in western  and central North Dakota," Great Plains president Melissa Sobolik said at a ribbon cutting for the new facility. "A more centrally located warehouse will improve our efficiencies, as we bring donated food in, and transport food out."

Sobolik said the new center is expected to support the distribution of 1.5 million pounds of surplus food in its first year of operation, which translates to 1.25 million meals. It will serve a network of 87 food pantries, shelters and soup kitchens in central and western North Dakota.

Sobolik said last year, Great Plains served 102,000 North Dakotas. She said this year, because of COVID-19, the food bank is now serving 135,000 North Dakotans. She said the COVID situation also meant some challenges for the organization.

"The food donations that we relied on so greatly really plummeted right away," Sobolik said in an interview. "People were panic-buying, and retailers didn't have it to donate."

Sobolik said the food bank resorted to purchasing most of the food.

"We're buying it by the truckload right off the market, because we are committing to making sure our shelves are stocked, and all of the food pantries get the food they need," Sobolik said.

Great Plains now has two distribution centers, one in Fargo and one in Bismarck. The food bank serves all of North Dakota, as well as Clay County, Minnesota.

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