It’s not always easy to see hunger in Bismarck, but hundreds of cars waiting for food in the Kirkwood Mall parking lot paint a different picture.

“People in need don’t have a face,” Great Plains Food Bank Regional Services Director Rachel Monge said. Her organization is crisscrossing the state to distribute boxes of produce.

“There’s just a lot more people in need than we’ve ever seen in North Dakota,” Monge said.

The food distributions are part of a short-term USDA program called Farmers to Families.

“This is food that farmers weren’t able to get to the restaurants and schools due to closures, Monge said. “So now this food can be recovered and get to families.”

Anyone who needs food or wants to pick some up for those who can’t make it can drive through and grab a box.

Each household gets one box, which includes a variety of produce including apples, carrots, onions and potatoes, among other foods.

Emily Glovich and Alex Hinkel from Mandan have been to one of the drive-throughs before.

“We come here because I live all alone, and I don’t have that much money for my food,” Glovich said.

They’re not alone — Monge said the food bank brought 1,400 boxes to distribute. Nationally, more than 54 million people may experience food insecurity because of Covid-19, according to Feeding America. The organization also projects increases in food insecurity across every county in North Dakota.

Annika Hapip is the reach coordinator at Evangel Church, which had about 25 volunteers at this morning’s distribution.

“We want to be as present as possible especially during this time. So if this is the one thing that we can do, a small thing, then we want to be a part of it,” Hapip said.

Volunteers wore masks and gloves, and used hand sanitizer throughout the event.

The program started June 1 and will continue through August at various locations in North Dakota and Clay County, Minnesota.

To learn more about how to help or where the next food distribution will be, visit the Great Plains Food Bank website here.