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Pop-up food pantry becoming permanent hunger-relief program

Pop-up food pantry at Lutheran Church of the Cross in West Fargo, ND.
Pop-up food pantry at Lutheran Church of the Cross in West Fargo, ND.(Valley News Live)
Published: Jun. 28, 2021 at 10:12 AM CDT
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WEST FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - A pop-up food pantry at Lutheran Church of the Cross in West Fargo is being transitioned into a hunger-relief program thanks to some generous community partners. Gate City Bank made a gift of over $120,000 to make the pop-up food pantry permanent, and say it’s a first-of-its-kind transformation in North Dakota.

West Fargo Eats is a collaboration between YWCA Cass Clay, Lutheran Church of the Cross, Great Plains Food Bank and Gate City Bank to form the new Food Share Alliance in West Fargo.

The group worked together to make the “pop up to permanent” vision a reality. West Fargo Eats will be operated entirely by volunteers from the Food Share Alliance partners and is scheduled to open in the fall of 2021.

It will be open on a consistent schedule, and offer a shopping-style experience. Typical food relief received will be three days’ worth of canned goods, cereal, rice, noodles, bread, dairy products and protein/meat. Hygiene items will also be offered.

“Over the past few years when working with Lutheran Church of the Cross (LCC) 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 the Great Plains Food Bank joining us in this effort.”

The pop-up pantry fed 3,700 individuals with 55,000 pounds of food during the summer of 2020. One Friday alone in May 2021, the pop-up served 613 individuals in 90 minutes.

“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.”

Each organization is contributing essential components to the new permanent program.

  • Gate City Bank – The gift of more than $120,000 from Gate City Bank fully funds the LCC church garage renovation into the permanent food relief pantry, including design, site work, construction, furniture, fixtures, and equipment, such as a cooler and a freezer. Gate City Bank President & CEO Kevin Hanson says they will support West Fargo Eats and the Food Share Alliance financially and through volunteer hours.
  • YWCA Cass Clay – YWCA’s has more than two decades of experience in providing food pantry support in Fargo, giving out 145,000 pounds of food annually at its Emergency Shelter.
  • Lutheran Church of the Cross – LCC committed the physical space for the new permanent program and 2.5% of its capital campaign to support this effort into the future.
  • Great Plains Food Bank – With 38 years of experience, Great Plains Food Bank will be the sustainable source of the food distributed at this new West Fargo hunger-relief pantry.

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