The Great Plains Food Bank (GPFB) distributed 700 fresh produce boxes to individuals and families in the Twin Town Area on Monday, Aug. 3 at Wahpeton High School.
“It was great,” GPFB Food Box Program Project Specialist Zoe Absey said. “It’s the first time being Wahpeton with an event like this and got rid of all 700 boxes.”
The boxes are filled with approximately $20 worth of fresh produce, with a mixture of items such as bags of apples and potatoes, a head of lettuce, onions, celery, carrots, zucchini and cucumbers.
Due to the current pandemic, clients were asked to remain in their vehicles at all times while volunteers assisted in putting boxes in vehicles while sanitizing, following social distancing guidelines, and wearing face covers and gloves.
Farmers to Families Food Box Program is a new, short term United States Department of Agriculture program in response to coronavirus pandemic, which helps farmers and suppliers get their food into the hands of families who need it.
“During the COVID crisis there were a lot of farmers dumping milk and slaughtering pigs because they couldn’t rid of their products and couldn’t sell their products,” Absey said. “USDA bought a bunch of products from farmers, meat and dairy, so they could money and then they gave it to us food banks to distribute because we already have the infrastructure and ways to get out food.”
Absey said that for this reason, the food boxes were free and open to all.
“There are no income requirements or applications, even though a lot of times there are requirements at food banks,” she said. “This is just the USDA saying ‘Here is some food, give it to your community.’ It’s more so just us trying to get the food out for the community and so farmers could get rid of their product and not waste it. I can’t imagine having to throw out all of your hard work.”
The GPFB began at the end of May and will continue distributing fresh produce boxes until the money from the USDA runs out. As of now, they will be running food boxes through Monday, Aug. 31. The food bank distributes across the state of North Dakota extending from Fargo-Moorhead, Bismarck, Dickinson, Minot and Williston, and reaching smaller communities around those areas.
The food bank is scheduled to come back to Wahpeton High School for another distribution of fresh produce boxes from 4-6 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 24.