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Area food pantries stocked and ready to go

EDITOR'S NOTE: Part of this story was missing from some editions of Sunday's Forum. It is being rerun in its entirety.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Part of this story was missing from some

editions of Sunday's Forum. It is being rerun in its entirety.

Officials at local food banks say they are well stocked for the Christmas holiday, thanks in part to the recent "Fill the Dome" food drive organized by local high school students.

"They collected it at the right time, when we needed it the worst," said Linda Clark, coordinator of the Emergency Food Pantry in Fargo at 1438 10th St. N.

The food drive in November aimed to fill the floor of the Fargodome with donated food.

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It yielded 80,498 pounds, which went to Great Plains Food Bank for distribution to local food pantries and shelters. Most of the food was distributed last week.

The Emergency Food Pantry received 29,382 pounds - roughly the amount it gives out in one month, Clark said.

The donations included enough flour to last three or four months, she added.

"Because of the great job that all of the students did filling the dome, we're doing really well," she said.

November and December are busy months for food pantries, Clark said.

"We see a lot of people who at the holidays just don't have enough money," she said.

In Moorhead, the Dorothy Day House's food pantry at 1308 Main Ave. received almost 17,000 pounds of food from the "Fill the Dome" event, Assistant Director Sonja Ellner said.

The pantry serves about 1,500 people per month and receives half of its food through donations.

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Community support this holiday season has been "outstanding," Ellner said.

"We've gotten tons and tons of donations from the community," she said. "We've gotten some from businesses and churches and all sorts of places, just people (giving) out of their generosity."

However, more donations will be needed to make it through the rest of winter, said Steve Sellent, director of Great Plains Food Bank, a Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota program.

"We're seeing increased demand, and the food supply kind of being flat this year, it's lowered our stock compared to previous years," he said.

Great Plains Food Bank distributes food through a network of 240 agencies across all of North Dakota and Clay County in Minnesota, serving about 50,000 to 52,000 people, Sellent said.

Great Plains had 30,000 cases of product in inventory at the end of the first quarter of 2007, but was down to 17,000 cases by the end of the third quarter on Sept. 30, he said.

"With the high cost of food and fuel and heating and everything, our agencies have seen demand continue to increase," he said.

Sellent said the "Fill the Dome" donations have helped to bridge the gap and meet the community's needs.

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Still, "We're a little concerned about what's going to happen in the next couple of months," he said.

Sellent agreed that the student-led food drive came at just the right time.

"I think without that, some of the food pantries around town would have been really short this holiday season," he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528 Area food pantries stocked and ready to go Mike Nowatzki 20071224

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