FARGO, N.D. — Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Great Plains Food Bank was serving one in eight people in North Dakota and Clay County, Minn. But during the pandemic, the food bank’s pantries have seen a 44% increase in need. Mobile pantries have seen a 79% increase.

That increase in need has come at a time of dwindling food donations, which made a big donation on Wednesday, April 29, all the more important.

Frozen potato products donated to Great Plains Food Bank will help feed families across North Dakota and Clay County, Minn. (Trevor Peterson / Agweek)
Frozen potato products donated to Great Plains Food Bank will help feed families across North Dakota and Clay County, Minn. (Trevor Peterson / Agweek)
“This truckload is coming in at a time when we need it the most. We have a lot and lot of people who are turning to us who have never turned to us before. And with food donations going down and it getting harder and harder to get that product in, when we can see a truckload of potatoes come in, we are all smiles,” said Melissa Sobolik, president of the Great Plains Food Bank.

The truckload of potato products came courtesy of Lamb Weston and RDO Frozen and amounted to 37,000 pounds of potato products like hashbrowns.

“They really stepped up and said, what can we do to help?” Sobolik said.

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More than 1,500 cases of frozen potato products will help feed people in North Dakota and Clay County, Minn. (Trevor Peterson / Agweek)
More than 1,500 cases of frozen potato products will help feed people in North Dakota and Clay County, Minn. (Trevor Peterson / Agweek)
She said the pandemic has more people in need of help to feed themselves and their families, but it’s been a struggle to keep up.

“There’s not a corner of the state that hasn’t been hit with this, and we are struggling to make sure no one is going hungry at the end of the day,” she said.

Sobolik said the food bank is in need of donations of “anything shelf stable that we can put in a box and get out to people all throughout the state.”