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North Country Food Bank requests one-time $25,000 donation

North Country Food Bank seeks $25,000 from local counties receiving food. Courtesy image

Surplus food from industry and farming in our region is often destined for the North Country Food Bank in Crookston.

That food then spreads through west central and northwest Minnesota in places like Wadena or Verndale food shelves and into the hands of the hungry. In place, the provider put 6.75 million meals in the hands of those who needed it in 2017. Many of the 21 counties this provider serves have jumped on board to support the food bank, not wanting to know what would happen should it cease to exist.

North Country Food Bank (NCFB) executive director Susie Novak shared during a recent Wadena County Commissioner meeting about the impact of the service in the area and noted that the warehouse must improve in order for them to continue to distribute to an ever increasing number of those in need. To do so, the NCFB has plans of building a new facility in Crookston. Novak said NCFB has never asked for support from counties before and she didn't expect them to do so again, however, this one time, she asks for $25,000.

"We've never asked for money from counties, we've never gotten money from counties before," Novak said.

Commissioner Chuck Horsager quickly surmised that that was a fairly small price to pay considering just the donated value of the product coming into Wadena County was over $320,000 annually.

"We're in the situation where we've grossly outgrown our facility," Novak said. Based on recent inspections, they are no longer compliant in doing what they do.

The total project cost is about $6 million. This last push for funding is needed to secure the final million dollars.

Novak was visiting each of the counties with this request and she said none had said no, so far.

Wadena County Commissioners each agreed that if the money could be budgeted for or money could be found, they were in support of making it happen. They planned to look further into the budget to see just where the funds could be drawn from.

Novak mentioned that it's a misconception that NCFB is supported by the government. It is fully privately funded. And for each dollar brought in, they manage to stretch it to about $5, Novak said.

As for the current facility, it is sold and they are currently leasing it. They also have had 6 acres of land donated that they plan to build on. Novak said a plus is that operation costs should go down as they currently operate out of two facilities and would be moving to one.

Novak noted NCFB is the third largest facility in the state, and all operations are done with 11 employees and countless volunteer hours

INFO BOX

Quick facts

North Country Food Bank distributes millions of meals each year in the form of many foods. Here is a look at how much the food distribution has grown.

Pounds of food distributed annually:

2009: 2,947,718

2010: 3,899,357

2011: 4,371,966

2012: 4,711,154

2013: 5,063,192

2014: 7,477,158

2015: 6,418,725

2016: 7,285,389

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