No one should have to go hungry. That’s why Gate City Bank has donated more than $120,000 and is having team members volunteer to transform a pop-up food pantry into a permanent hunger relief program in West Fargo. The program is the first of its kind in the community.
“Sadly, we know that for many of our neighbors and their families, a better way of life begins simply by receiving one of the most basic human needs – food,” says Kevin Hanson, Gate City Bank President & CEO. “We’ve chosen to support West Fargo Eats and the Food Share Alliance financially and through team member volunteer hours, because working together, this effort will make a generational impact in this community.”
Collaborative effort is being made possible by a strategic alliance between Gate City Bank, YWCA Cass Clay, Great Plains Food Bank and Lutheran Church of the Cross. Each organization brings unique expertise to the table that will help ensure sustainability for a better way of life.
By working together, these community partners are helping to ensure that the West Fargo Eats food pantry maintains three days’ worth of canned goods, cereal, rice, noodles, bread, dairy products and protein/meat to help those in need. Hygiene items will also be offered.
“One in six people experience food insecurity in Cass County and Clay County,” says Melissa Sobolik, Great Plains Food Bank president. “As we work to create hunger-free communities in North Dakota, we are incredibly thankful to see this pop-up pantry transformed into a permanent food relief solution.”
Gate City Bank appreciates its partnership with Lutheran Church of the Cross, YWCA Cass Clay and Great Plains Food Bank.
Lutheran Church of the Cross committed 2.5% of their capital campaign for ongoing funding, along with the physical space for the new permanent food relief program and volunteer support.
Gate City Bank has also been a longtime supporter of the YWCA Cass Clay, helping the nonprofit build an economic enrichment wing in 2015 and transitional housing in 2010. In 2017, the Bank stepped up again to pledge $1.5 million (the largest donation in YWCA’s history) toward the Grace Garden expansion. The 30-unit women’s supportive housing initiative promotes an environment of safety, stability and community for women and children who have experienced domestic abuse and poverty.
“Over the past few years when working with Lutheran Church of the Cross to build Grace Garden: A YWCA Supported Residence, together we identified areas in which we could continue to serve our neighbors in need, and that is when food insecurity was identified,” says Erin Prochnow, YWCA Cass Clay CEO. “As a result of COVID-19, we expedited the planning into action and started the ‘West Fargo Eats Pop-Up Food Pantry’ in May 2020, with Great Plains Food Bank joining us in this effort.”
Additionally, Gate City Bank is a longstanding, trusted partner of Great Plains Food Bank in supporting hunger relief throughout the region. One example is when the Bank provided funding for a semi-truck to travel across North Dakota and western Minnesota to provide food to rural communities, as well as volunteers. With 38 years of experience, Great Plains Food Bank will be the sustainable source of the food distributed at the new West Fargo hunger relief pantry.
Increased demand for local emergency food supplies in recent years has made the need for a permanent hunger-relief program evident. Established in 2020, the West Fargo Eats pop-up food pantry has responded to community needs by operating out of the back of a refrigerated truck in the Lutheran Church of the Cross parking lot on Friday afternoons. During the summer of 2020, the pantry fed nearly 3,500 people with 55,000 pounds of food.
“The need was even more significant than we anticipated,” says Rev. Joel Baranko, Lead Pastor at Lutheran Church of the Cross. “While we knew our efforts were helping, we believed an even greater impact could be made if we offered a permanent solution.”
One day West Fargo Eats served 544 people in 90 minutes. With increasing demand, organizers knew they needed to do more. The new permanent food bank will be located at the current Lutheran Church of the Cross property in West Fargo.
The $120,000 Gate City Bank donation will go towards design, construction and furnishing costs for the new permanent food pantry. All will be welcome to continue receiving food relief when the food pantry opens in fall 2021.