The Great Plains Food Bank will be hosting a distributing food boxes Thursday evening at the Henry Biesiot Activities Center for those in need of food assistance in the form of a drive-through distribution.

Great Plains Food Bank will host the “Dickinson Farmers to Families Distribution” from 4 to 5:30 p.m. as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farmers to Families Food Box Program. The boxes will have a combination of produce, meat and dairy. Participants will be asked to fill out a short form upon arrival in order to receive a food box.

Since June, the USDA initiated this new program in response to COVID-19 all around North Dakota, Great Plains Food Bank Community Initiative Coordinator Janice Tweet said.

This is the third phase of the program, Tweet said, explaining that USDA wants to make sure the distributions are intended for those who need food assistance. When the pandemic hit, farmers were devastated by the drawbacks and this program has been to provide them with support.

“It’s actually changed a little bit from the beginning.So the program started this spring when USDA was seeing that a lot of farmers were not able to not get their food out in the same way they were before. Restaurants weren’t buying it, schools weren’t buying it due to COVID, and so USDA decided to step in and start buying some of those products from farmers in order to keep food moving out into the market. And then they wanted to take it and get it to nonprofits around the country who could then distribute to clients who were needing it,” Tweet said. “We didn’t have any stipulations around who could receive it in the beginning of the program; it was just open to everybody. But USDA has changed that focus and so now it is intended for people who are in need of food assistance.”

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Currently, the contracts with USDA and farmers run until the end of October, and it is unknown at this point whether the food box program will continue through the winter, Tweet said. However, with the multiple distributions held in Dickinson since June, over 800 households have benefitted from the program.

“I think we’ve definitely seen a rise among people in our state who are in need due to COVID, so we’re just very grateful to have this extra food that’s been coming in so that we’re able to get around to the entire state and make it accessible for people who are in need now due to COVID,” she said.

With the giving season right around the corner, people from the Dickinson community have been more than helpful in the distribution whether it’s donating their time or the use of their forklift to help

“We’ve heard lots of good things. With the number of boxes that we’ve been able to receive, we’ve also been able to get to communities fairly frequently and so it’s just been something that people can look for us now and know that we’re coming. The repetition of it, I think, has helped with people as well,” Tweet said. “We’ve only been allowed to include the meat and dairy now for our distributions in October. We hadn’t really had that before through the program and so, we just heard great feedback of people with the variety we’re now able to provide them as well.”

For more information, visit the Dickinson Farmers to Families Distribution Facebook page.