FARGO — Fewer children, seniors and families across North Dakota and western Minnesota will be going hungry due to the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to a generous gift from Cargill, which has donated $40,000 to the Great Plains Food Bank.

Having a shared mission to the Great Plains Food Bank to feed the world, the gift from Cargill was generated from its local office and comes at a time when the state’s only food bank is seeing a heightened need for food assistance across the region.

The gift will be instrumental as the Great Plains Food Bank launches a $12 million response over the next 12 months to meet the higher need as a result of the pandemic.

“We continue to work hard each day to fill the increased demand due to COVID-19 and gifts like this from Cargill are crucial for us to be able to do that,” Great Plains Food Bank President Melissa Sobolik said. “We thank Cargill for all they do in the fight to end hunger and because of their support fewer people will need to worry about where their next meal will be coming from.”

“In Fargo, we are working with our nonprofit partners, like the Great Plains Food Bank, to ensure everyone in our community has the resources they need during this unprecedented time,” Jaysen Schock, plant manager of Cargill’s facility in Fargo, said. “We are inspired by the medical professionals, first responders, workers, nonprofits and producers in Fargo who are making sure our essential needs are met.”

Since the region has been impacted by COVID-19, the Great Plains Food Bank has seen a 44 percent increase for food assistance through its network of partner food pantries, shelters and soup kitchens and a 79 percent increase at distributions of its Mobile Food Pantry.

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