(KXNET) — Great Plains Food Bank officials say high food and gas prices, coupled with dwindling food donations means there will be 800,000 fewer meals for those in need in North Dakota.

The shortfall comes at a time when hunger impacts one in six individuals in the state.

Food bank representatives say it’s the organization’s biggest challenge since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

“There are many elements at work here that are creating challenges for the organization in meeting the hunger needs of our neighbors,” says Great Plains Food Bank Chief Operating Officer Kate Molbert. “We don’t want to paint the picture that there won’t be food available. We will still be here to serve our neighbors living with food insecurity who rely on our services each day.”

To help offset an expected donation deficit of 1 million pounds, Great Plains plans to spend $2.2 million to purchase food this year, twice what was spent on food purchasing during the past fiscal year. Additionally, Great Plains is working acquire new growers, manufacturers and retail partners interested in donating food to help narrow the donation gap.

The Great Plains Food Bank distributed more than 13 million pounds of food during the most recent fiscal year, which runs from July until June each year. Food donations from retailers, growers and manufacturers made to the food bank have reached their lowest levels since 2018.

“If there ever was a time when the public can assist us in filling this gap, now is the time,” says Molbert.

Financial donations to fund additional food purchasing can be made here.

Additionally, food donations are needed and can be made at the Great Plains Food Bank or at one of the local food pantry partners. A complete list of each partner can be found here.