WEST FARGO — West Fargo Eats, the pop up market that has helped give thousands of pounds of food to the hungry now has a permanent location at the Lutheran Church of the Cross in West Fargo.

The YWCA Cass Clay, Lutheran Church of the Cross, Great Plains Food Bank, and Gate City Bank joined together to form the new Food Share Alliance in West Fargo – a first in this community – with each organization uniquely contributing to ending food insecurity in West Fargo.

The YWCA, Lutheran Church of the Cross and GPFB started the West Fargo pop-up pantry in May 2020,by handing out food in the church parking lot out of the back of a refrigerated truck. The pop-up pantry fed 3,700 individuals with 55,000 pounds of food during the summer of 2020. On a Thursday in September, the pop-up served a record-setting 767 individuals in just 90 minutes.

In June, Gate City Bank joined the three groups and donated $120,000, enough to fully fund the renovation of the church's garge into a permanent site for the food pantry.

“Our eyes were opened to hunger by a bigger crisis, now solved for families to be fed across the future,” said Erin Prochnow, YWCA Cass Clay CEO. “We joined to bring differing expertise - faith, social sector and business – to a community issue. Now, we’re united heart and hands in this mission.”

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With construction underway, the pop-up pantry continued its mission. To date, West Fargo Eats. has served 147,682 pounds of food to 13,056 people, operated entirely by volunteers from the Food Share Alliance partners.

“When individuals and families experience unexpected food insecurity, they are faced with impossible financial choices,” said Kevin Hanson, Gate City Bank, President & CEO. “Through our support of West Fargo Eats, in both financial gifts and employee volunteer hours, we are giving families the help they need today for a better way of life tomorrow.”

At its new location, clients can call West Fargo Eats on select Tuesdays and be walked through a menu by volunteers—choosing from menu categories that best fit their family's nutritional needs. Pick-up of personal meal boxes will occur on the following Thursday evening or Friday morning.

Typical food received will be three days’ worth of canned goods, cereal, rice, noodles, bread, dairy products and protein/meat. Hygiene items and baby products will also be offered when available. More information about hours of operation and opportunities to volunteer can be found at lcc-wf.com/west-fargo-eats or by calling 701-532-0394.

“Without judgement or hesitation, all are welcome,” Rev. Joel Baranko, Lutheran Church of the Cross, lead pastor said. “Those experiencing food insecurity will receive hunger relief in a new setting of respect and dignity. We are putting our faith into action through sharing the abundances we often take for granted.”

One in six people experience food insecurity in North Dakota. One in four are children.