Great Plains Food Bank sees record need in 2020; provides 17.7 million meals to more than 145,000 individuals


FARGO, N.D. – Due to unforeseen challenges faced by many as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Plains Food Bank witnessed an unprecedented need for food assistance across North Dakota and western Minnesota last year.

During 2020, the Great Plains Food Bank provided food for 17.7 million meals to those in need, which is nearly five million meals more than 2019, and served a total of 145,587 individuals, which is more than 43,000 more than one year ago. Each of these increases are records in the long 38-year history of the Great Plains Food Bank.

“These were sobering numbers to see,” Great Plains Food Bank President Melissa Sobolik said. “We knew that it was a difficult year for so many, but this really puts things into perspective. These are historic gains and so many of those we served in 2020 were seeking a food box for the first time. I am proud of our organization, with the support of thousands of community hunger relief partners, for being able to step up and fill the need. Unfortunately, we have a long way to go to continue to fill this demand, and community support for our organization has never been more crucial.”

Hunger is now impacting one in six individuals throughout the region. In total, the Great Plains Food Bank distributed more than 21 million pounds of food last year, which was also a record.

Great Plains Food Bank “by the numbers”

  2019 2020 Increase
Pounds distributed 15,284,206 21,262,358 5,978,152 (39%)
Meals provided 2,736,838 17,718,631 4,981,793 (39%)
Individuals served 102,362 145,587 43,225 (42%)

Giving Hearts Day
You can help the Great Plains Food Bank with a donation this Thursday, February 11, for Giving Hearts Day. Donations made for Giving Hearts Day will be matched, which allows you to provide six meals for each dollar donated. Schedule your gift HERE, or visit and choose the Great Plains Food Bank.

About the Great Plains Food Bank
Now in its 38th year, the Great Plains Food Bank serves as North Dakota’s only food bank. Its partner network includes nearly 200 food pantries, shelters, soup kitchens, and other charitable feeding programs operating more than 100 communities across N.D. and Clay County, Minn. Since 1983, the Great Plains Food Bank, through its array of innovative direct service programs and partner network, have distributed more than 175 million meals to children, seniors, and families in need. The Great Plains Food Bank is a member of Feeding America, the nation’s food bank network, and was named the Not-for-Profit of the Year in 2018 by the Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo Chamber of Commerce.

Twitter: @NDFoodBank
Instagram: greatplainsfoodbank