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Belfield-Medora pantry gets grant, seeks more for renovation

Press Photo by Katherine Lymn Belfield-Medora Food Pantry board members Florence Obrigewitsch, left, and Doris Urban discuss what the pantry offers to meet the growing demand for food.

BELFIELD — The Belfield-Medora Food Pantry was recently awarded a $5,000 grant that’ll go toward a $25,000 renovation of the facility, where demand is growing as people come to the area for work and don’t find it right away, and living costs are rising for all. The building, an old parsonage, needs new doors, windows and siding, pantry coordinator Doris Urban said.

The $5,000 grant from the North Dakota Community Foundation will cover new windows and doors, but the pantry is working to raise another $15,000 privately for the rest of the renovation. The Belfield American Legion has committed $5,000.

“It sounds like a lot but everything is that way now,” pantry board member Florence Obrigewitsch said.

In the past couple years, the pantry has seen more need from the “working poor,” Urban said, as people move to the area looking for work but don’t find it right away.

Oil Patch-wide, even people unrelated to the boom have seen day-to-day costs rise and are turning to food pantries for the first time, said Rachel Alme of the Great Plains Food Bank, which works with the Belfield-Medora pantry.

“Most people are living the same lives they had been living before this started, only now milk is $6 a gallon,” she said.

The Belfield-Medora pantry serves its namesake communities, plus South Heart, Daglum, most of Billings County and transients that come through town, Urban said.

The North Dakota Community Foundation received more than 150 applications for this round of grants but could only fund 49, said development director Amy Warnke.

She said the foundation has seen a statewide increase for applications for money in the past three years.

Food pantry board member Shelley Dukart said the renovations will save money in the long term by lowering utility bills.

“It’s a wonderful building,” Urban said, “but it needs upkeep.”