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Great Plains Food Bank, ND Dept of Agriculture encourages participation in Hunger Free North Dakota Garden Project

The program helps connect producers with local food pantries to donate their fresh produce.

Farmers and gardeners in North Dakota are being encouraged to plant an extra acre on their land or an extra row in their garden, and donate that portion of their harvest to the Hunger Free North Dakota Garden Project.

Grant Nieters is the food resource manager at the Bismarck Great Plains Food Bank. Nieters says one in six North Dakotans currently struggles with food insecurity, with one in four of those being children.

The Food Bank is partnering with the North Dakota Department of Agriculture to inspire producers in the state to participate in the project, and bolster produce donations to their local food pantries, shelters and soup kitchens.

"This will actually be the 13th year of it; it started out in 2010. The goal each year is to source half a million pounds. Since 2010, we've sourced 3.4 million pounds of food, which comes out to about 2.83 million meals we've been able to give back to the community."

Nieters says it’s easy to get involved in the project. He says the easiest way is to go to the North Dakota Department of Agriculture website, or just google “Hunger Free North Dakota Garden Project.”

"When you click on there, it runs through all the details there and even has a link where you can drop off your produce. If you happen to be in an area that's not close to one of the produce drop box, you can always go to www.greatplainsfoodbank.org and then under "our work," you can click on pantries and soup kitchens and it will show all of them across the state; there should be one close to where you live."

With inflation and high food prices, demand for food assistance at the Great Plains Food Bank increased 14 percent in 2022 – while food donations dropped by 21 percent.