Sanford Health is donating $1 million today to the Great Plains Food Bank, a record gift for the organization and just part of an overall $3 million in donations by Sanford to food banks in North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa.

The Great Plains Food Bank says the donation is the largest it has ever received in the group’s 38-year-history.

The remaining $2 million is being split between Feeding South Dakota, North Country Food Bank, Second Harvest North Central Foodbank, Second Harvest Heartland, Food Bank of Siouxland and Food Bank of Iowa.

“Not having access to nutritious food can lead to the development of chronic illnesses and often aggravates the severity of existing conditions,” said Sanford Health Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Allison Suttle. “This is a major investment in the well-being of our communities.” 

Since March, the Great Plains Food Bank has served nearly 11 million meals to those in need, a 45 percent increase over the same period in 2019.

“This is an absolutely incredible gift,” said Great Plains Food Bank President Melissa Sobolik. “With the need for food assistance at an all-time high, it is fitting that we are able to respond with the largest financial gift in our history as well. This gift from Sanford Health will help us provide more than 2.55 million meals across our state.”

The Great Plains Food Bank will use the money to help strengthen its efforts in food acquisition and distribution, purchase an additional semi-trailer, expand its BackPack Program and establish new Wellness Pantry Program locations within healthcare providers in the region.