As part of Hunger Action Month, the Great Plains Food Bank is hosting its annual Packathon.

Last year, the Great Plains Food Bank saw 20 million pounds of food donations come through both their distribution centers in Bismarck and Fargo — and that’s why volunteers are vital to their operations.

“That’s a lot of food to package, to label, to box up. We couldn’t do it without them. Basically we’ve got to hire anywhere from five to 10 full-time employees to get that work done. So volunteers do a couple of things. It helps us get our work done for the mission. It also engages the community in our fight to end hunger in North Dakota,” explained Ron Walters, the Major Gifts Officer for Great Plains Food Bank.

Walters says with record breaking numbers of people needing help last year during the pandemic, the Bismarck distribution center opening last year couldn’t have come at a better time and that’s why raising awareness about hunger is important.

“It’s a basic need for every human being that you can think of, including North Dakotans. Hunger is important. It’s critical to quality of life. It’s critical to the development of children. It’s critical to our seniors and their health,” said Walters.

As part of the Packathon, volunteers packed food boxes, bagged fresh fruit and got to tour the new facility to see the work the organization is doing on a daily basis.

“The Great Plains Food Bank does some awesome work around the state. I don’t know what things would be like without them. As rural electrical cooperatives, we support all areas of the state and we just want to be here to help out to volunteer and do what we can. You know, make sure everyone has access to food,” said Josh Kramer, Executive Vice President for North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives.

Four local organizations lent a hand at the Great Plains Food Distribution Center as part of the 2021 Packathon.

The Great Plains Food Bank will continue its 2021 Packathon on Thursday and Friday in Fargo.