[From left to right: Faith Benassi, volunteer; Deb Normandin, business manager; Jennifer Erdmann, agency relations coordinator; Gary Moser, warehouse coordinator; Lori Tate, CFSP coordinator; Susie Novak, executive director]

By Jess Bengtson
Posted Sep. 25, 2013 @ 10:59 am

Crookston, Minn.  —      Employees, volunteers and well wishers gathered Tuesday at the North Country Food Bank to celebrate their 30th anniversary. Susie Novak, executive director, happily walked around the place giving tours to folks that hadn't been there before and talked about all the lives they have changed over the years.    

    One of the first stops that she liked to show off was the plate wall. Family recipients of the food bank had wrote on paper plates that were hung about how getting that assistance has helped them along the way. There were a lot of people who said it relieved their stress in knowing they will have a meal for their children. It has also encouraged families who have made it through the tough times to come back and volunteer. Some even do it every week.    

    Volunteers are the biggest part of the food bank and food shelf, which has been open for two years this November. There were over 10,800 volunteer hours logged last year. A lot of their products are donated, but they do receive commodities and purchase goods themselves. "There are things that aren't ever donated like flour for baking. We are fortunate to purchase those things at wholesale for those in need," mentioned Novak.   

    Last year, almost five million pounds of food were sent out to people in need. The food bank has special programs for school age children and seniors. The back pack program serves 34 schools and 4,300 children every month. The Nutrition Assistance Program for Seniors (NAPS) serves 40 pounds of food to approximately 2,000 seniors in need every month.    

    If you or your organization would like to volunteer, the North Country Food Bank takes appointments or you can stop by during business hours. Their main office is at 424 North Broadway Street in Crookston.
Read more: http://www.crookstontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20130925/NEWS/130929794#ixzz2g1TcLKHD

Be the Hero. Fight Hunger.

Each March, Minnesota FoodShare directs the March Campaign, the largest food drive in the state and restocks almost 300 food shelves across Minnesota. It recruits thousands of congregations, companies, schools a...nd community groups to run local fund and food drives to aid in the effort.

Minnesota FoodShare organizes a statewide media campaign to promote food shelf donations. It produces and distributes free promotional and educational resources for food drive organizers. It acts as a clearinghouse for cash donations and distributes these donations to Minnesota food shelves participating in the March campaign. Throughout the year, Minnesota FoodShare advocates on behalf of hungry families with state and federal lawmakers and educates the public about hunger in Minnesota.


Crookston, MN – December 10, 2012
Finally, an online auction you can feel good about overspending or overpaying on during the holiday season!  North Country Food Bank, Inc. is currently holding an online fundraising auction.  The auction ends on Sunday, December 16, 2012, at 6:00 p.m.  You can find the “North Country Food Bank, Inc. Holiday Fundrasier” auction at www.k-bid.com under the “On Line Now” tab.  Auctions are listed in order by ending date.
This auction features many great items and gift certificates donated by local and regional business and residents.  Get your Christmas shopping done, while helping those who struggle with hunger at the same time! K-Bid, a company that specializes in online auctions, has generously agreed to provide the online venue for this auction free of charge. There are no buyer’s premiums or additional charges.  100% of the proceeds from this auction will go directly to North Country, and be used to help fund the purchase of a 53 foot refrigerated semi-trailer.
North Country provides emergency food assistance to over 250 charitable organizations in 21 counties in northwest and west central Minnesota, including food shelves, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, senior centers, and backpack programs to name a few.  “We are committed to making sure that every hungry neighbor has plenty to eat during the holidays and every day.  But, we cannot do it without the support of the public and the communities we serve,” said Susie Novak, executive director of North Country Food Bank, Inc.   Each dollar donated to North Country by purchasing items in this online fundraising auction can provide up to 5 meals for someone in our community at risk of hunger.  You can help by simply submitting a winning bid!
Hunger is an on-going problem that affects the well-being of our entire community.  And, there couldn’t be a more meaningful time than now to take a stand against hunger.  Please join North Country in the fight. 

Feeding America recently released updated Map the Meal Gap data and discovered children are at risk of hunger in every county across the U.S. In Minnesota alone, there are 212,050 food insecure children. 
Click here to view the report.

Across the United States, one child in five faces hunger. When children go without food they are likely to suffer deficiencies that hinder their learning and growth. You can help ensure kids get the meals they need by making a donation to Minnesota's Feeding America Food Banks. Make your gift and Bremer Bank will match it dollar-for-dollar, up to $50,000!

Also, don't miss out on the opportunity to raise $1 just by watching this video. Bremer Bank will match every view with $1, up to $15,000!


CHS Harvest for Hunger shatters last year's donation total

Crookston — Cenex Harvest States' 2012 Harvest for Hunger raised $59,017.84, and Friday a check for that amount was presented to Susie Novak, executive director of North Country Food Bank.

"Wow! This is awesome, just fabulous!" Novak said in the Crookston NCFB warehouse, where she accepted the check from Carl Younce, CHS regional manager.

The 2011 CHS Harvest for Hunger raised approximately $40,000 in money and food.

What makes the Harvest for Hunger sort of unique, Younce said, is that CHS growers are the primary contributors. "They raise the food and they donate the food," he said.

This year, donations were collected at CHS Ag Services in Warren, Northwest Grain in St. Hilaire, Prairie Lakes Cooperative in Starbuck, Minn., New Horizons in Herman, Minn., CHS in Erskine and Mahnomen, Mid-Valley Grain Cooperative in Crookston, and Salol Elevators in Badger, Minn.


Gas prices eat up charities’ resources
It eats up their clients resources, too, they say, and increase the demand for services. Some nonprofits have had to respond by pulling back. Gas prices appear headed for $4 a gallon territory and nonprofits anticipate more demand.
By: Christopher Bjorke, Grand Forks Herald
March 28, 2012 - Facing the choice between spending at the gas pump or at the grocery store, some people cut back on food and turn to charities to fill their cupboards. But nonprofits are also struggling with higher fuel costs.

“We have trucks that are on the road every day,” said Susie Novak, executive director of the North Country Food Bank in Crookston. “It costs us more to get food back here and out to the agencies that distribute the food.”

Other food banks and nonprofit groups in the region are feeling the squeeze, too. Some nonprofits, such as the Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch in Grand Forks, have limited how far they drive.

Food banks can’t make such cut backs. Like wholesalers, they supply smaller organizations all over the region, whose clients come to them for food. The higher the price of gas rises, the higher the demand from clients as families have less to spend.

“The correlation is huge. We knew this month would be a big month for us,” said Novak, whose organization also operates a food shelf where people can pick up groceries.

Most clients do not have a choice of using less gasoline, she said. “Here you really can’t get around without driving everywhere.”

Many miles to drive

The price of a gallon of gasoline is $3.80 at most stations in the Grand Forks area, and prices traditionally peak around Memorial Day weekend. 

Like the clients they serve, many nonprofits have little room in their budgets to absorb higher fuel prices. 

The North Country Food Bank spent $23,260 on fuel in February and March 2011, and it has spent $32,602 during the same time this year, Novak said.

“We’re a nonprofit serving nonprofits. The only way to cover that cost is to raise more funds,” she said. “If we could spend that on food, that’s way more food we could get out to people in need.”

The food bank owns a semi-trailer and a smaller truck that carry food from suppliers and to the 254 organizations it serves in Grand Forks and 21 counties across northwest Minnesota.

North Country’s counterpart in Fargo, the Great Plains Food Bank, serves all of North Dakota as well as Clay County, Minn., covering 290 food programs in 109 communities, according to Marcia Paulson, director of marketing.

“That’s big. It’s a lot of road time and windshield time,” she said.

Program Director Steve Sellent said the organization budgeted $95,000 for fuel prices in its fiscal year, ending in June 30, but will probably spend about $20,000 more than that.

“It doesn’t look like it’s going down anytime soon,” Sellent said.
Shorter distances
Groups serving small geographic areas are also trying to maintain their services as expenses go up.

“Not that we wouldn’t want to go out to Crookston, Thompson (N.D.) or Manvel (N.D.) sometimes, but it just doesn’t pay for us to do that,” Cheryl Westfall, store and warehouse manager for the Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch in Grand Forks.

Its thrift store owns two trucks used to pick up donated furniture, clothes and other household items. It stopped going beyond Grand Forks and East Grand Forks for donations more than three years ago, and drivers try to visit as many places as they can when they go out for collections.

“We’re trying to make sure that truck comes back full,” Westfall said.

The Grand Forks Senior Center runs a meals-on-wheels program. Rather than pay directly for gas, it reimburses volunteer drivers 45 cents a mile. While many volunteers did not bother to get reimbursements in the past, more are getting them now, said Jami Schumacher, who handles public relations for the center.
More need
Gas prices in North Dakota peaked in July 2008, averaging $4.02 a gallon, according to NorthDakotaGasPrices.com.

Novak remembered seeing an increased need for food around summer 2008. After almost four years of a weak economy, she said she thinks the demand could be greater this year if prices continue to rise.

Some analysts think $4 gas may return this year. On Wednesday, the average was $3.73 a gallon, about 17 cents higher than at the end of last month, according to NorthDakotaGasPrices.com. It said one station in Grand Forks was selling gas at $3.94 a gallon, the highest in the state.

Paulson said that, though North Dakota’s unemployment rate has been low and wages have been rising, rising expenses are still creating more need at food pantries.

“We haven’t seen less pressure, unfortunately,” she said. “We wish it were going in the other direction.”


Susie Novak accepts a check from Dave Genereux, Andrew Svec, Dale Knotek, and Betty Arvidson as they pose in front of the freezer that was purchased.

December, 2011 - The Crookston Area Community Fund (CACF) presented a grant of $1,500 to North Country Food Bank, Inc. The grant was used towards the purchase of a freezer for the recently established food shelf. Susie Novak, Executive Director stated that “as a result of the generosity of a church, North Country has been able to temporarily use the church’s refrigeration and freezer equipment to launch the food shelf. North Country must now acquire its own equipment for long-term use.”

The Crookston Area Community fund is a component fund of the Northwest Minnesota Foundation, a 501 c (3) organization. CACF is committed to enhancing or improving the quality of life for residents and/or visitors of the Crookston area.


 North Country Food Shelf Opens Its Doors
October, 2011 - Crookston now has a new food shelf to assist people in need. North Country Food Bank opened a food shelf on Monday, October 24th. The food shelf is housed at North Country’s current location at 424 North Broadway, in downtown Crookston and is open to all residents of Polk County.

The goal of the food shelf is to provide food security to families and individuals in need throughout Polk County. The food shelf will run as a client choice model, where people are able to select the foods they need and will use, increasing the usefulness of what is given to them. The food shelf will also serve as a model for training and educational purposes for the other food shelves in North Country’s 21 county service area.

North Country Food Shelf will be open five days a week and one Saturday each month. This will allow the food shelf to accommodate clients with non-traditional schedules.

Donna Hartel has been hired as the coordinator of the food shelf and will be a great addition to the staff. Donna holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication from the University of Minnesota, Crookston and brings extensive customer service experience.

North Country Food Bank would like to thank United Way of Crookston for the $5000 grant that was used in the acquisition of food to launch the food


Join the Movement to Fight Hunger
North Country Food Bank, Inc., a regional hunger relief organization serving northwest and west central Minnesota, is pleased to announce it is a founding partner of Hunger-Free Minnesota. Officially launched on June 7, Hunger-Free Minnesota is a transformational, collaborative movement to fight hunger in our communities initiated by a coalition of partners united in the common belief that food is a basic and essential human right that every Minnesotan should have.

The coalition, which includes the six Feeding America Food Banks serving Minnesota, Hunger Solutions Minnesota and Greater Twin Cities United Way, came together after a series of five groundbreaking hunger-related studies conducted over the past 24 months shed light on hunger’s devastating, pervasive and costly grip on Minnesota. Among those studies is the Missing Meals Study, which found an annual shortfall of 100-million meals for low-income Minnesotans.

“The data in those studies made it clear that hunger has a stronger hold on Minnesota than we previously thought—a hold that is hurting our citizens, our communities and our economy,” said Susie Novak, Executive Director of North Country Food Bank. “And it led North Country and all of Hunger-Free Minnesota’s founding partners to say, ‘enough is enough’. The bottom line is that it’s time for Minnesotans to band together and meet the needs of our hungry neighbors once and for all.” According to Novak, participating in Hunger-Free Minnesota is as easy as visiting www.hungerfreemn.org, where individuals can help their neighbors in need by joining the movement for a Minnesota where everyone has enough to eat. To learn more about Hunger-Free Minnesota, the five hunger-related studies or to join the movement, visit www.hungerfreemn.org.


North Country Food Bank, Inc. receives more than $40,000 from Cenex Harvest States!

(Crookston, MN) April 13, 2011 - Mid-Valley Grain helped raise over two million melas for hungry families in the first ever CHS Harvest for Hunger food and funds drive.  "We're thrilled to report that CHS Harvest for Hunger reached double its goal," says Robert Staehnke, general manager.  "Our thanks to everyone who participated.  Together we proved how much the country cares about helping others in need."

For every donation collected, CHS Country Operations is making a local contribution that will be reinvested back into a local cause to help nearby friends and neighbors.  "Because our cooperative raised one of the largest amounts per full-time employee, we also earned a bonus contribution to reinvest in our community," says Staehnke.

In only 18 days, CHS employees, customers and partners worked together to collect 314,162 pounds of food and $247,635 in cash and grain for Feeding America's network of regional food banks.

Mid-Valley Grain is a business unit of CHS Inc., a leading energy, grains and foods company committed to providing essential resources that enrich lives.  For 80 years, the CHS system has valued volunteerism and been responsible stewards in its communities.  Held March 1-18, the CHS Harvest for Hunger food and funds drive harnessed the power of CHS retail locations to help address America's growing hunger problem.


Hugo's Participates in the Kraft Huddle For Hunger to Help North Country Food Bank, Inc.

April 20, 2011– The fight against hunger in northwest and west central Minnesota received strong support today from Hugo’s. Jack Sitter, of Hugo’s in Crookston, presented Susie Novak, of North Country Food Bank, Inc., with a check in the amount of $1,500.00. This donation was made possible as a result of Hugo’s participation in the Huddle for Hunger campaign sponsored by Feeding America and Kraft.

"There are thousands of hard-working adults, children and seniors who simply cannot make ends meet and are faced with the realities of hunger," said Sitter. "Many people don't realize the scope of hunger in their own community. We hope that by making this donation, we're not only helping feed those in need, but also bringing awareness to the issue of hunger here in northwest Minnesota."

Nationally, one in eight Americans are at risk of hunger. Locally, approximately 4,200 people receive emergency food assistance during any given week in the 21 counties North Country serves in northwest and west central Minnesota. North Country works with more than 210 local nonprofit agencies to distribute this food to people in need. This year, North Country will distribute over 4 million pounds of food to people in need. 

"We are very grateful for Hugo’s support in the fight against hunger," said Susie Novak, executive director of North Country Food Bank. "They have been a great local partner. This donation is especially valuable right now, when rising gas prices and rising food prices are forcing people to stretch their budgets more than ever.” For more information on how to get involved in the fight against hunger, please visit www.northcountryfoodbank.org
Minnesota Dehydrated Vegetables, Inc. Makes Donation with Special Acknowledgement of Larry & Diane Altringer
November 8, 2010 – The fight against hunger in northwest and west central Minnesota received strong support today as Minnesota Dehydrated Vegetables, Inc., (MDV) of Fosston, MN, donated over 47,000 pounds - which is more than a truckload - of food to North Country Food Bank, Inc.

The donation was made possible by MDV, with special acknowledgment to co-owners Larry and Diane Altringer. "There are thousands of hard-working adults, children and seniors who simply cannot make ends meet and are faced with the realities of hunger,” said Jim Noyes, General Manager of MDV. "Many people don't realize the scope of hunger in their own community. We hope that by making this donation, we're not only helping feed those in need, but also bringing awareness to the issue of hunger in northwest Minnesota."

Nationally, one in eight Americans are at risk of hunger. Locally, approximately 4,200 people receive emergency food assistance during any given week in the 21 counties North Country serves in northwest and west central Minnesota. North Country works with more than 210 local nonprofit agencies to distribute this food to people in need. This year, North Country will distribute over 4 million pounds of food.

MDV has been in the business of producing and selling high quality dehydrated vegetables since their inception in 1990. The company has made a name for itself by building a strong reputation for producing high quality products. Along with several standard products, including dehydrated and infusion puffed vegetables, MDV also provides custom products, custom processing, custom granulating and blending.

"We are very grateful for Minnesota Dehydrated Vegetable, Inc.’s support in the fight against hunger," said Susie Novak, executive director of North Country Food Bank. "This donation of pasta blend is especially valuable to people in need at this time. We are fast approaching the winter and the holiday seasons when people need help more than ever." For more information on how to get involved in the fight against hunger please contact us.

North Country receives donation from Fertile-Beltrami National Honor Society.
November 11, 2010 - The Fertile-Beltrami National Honor Society sponsored a fundraising drive in the Fertile-Beltrami Schools to raise money for North Country Food Bank.  On November 11, 2010, the National Honor Society presented Susie Novak, executive director of North Country Food Bank, with a check in the amount of $491.29 to help feed people in need during the upcoming holiday season.

As part of this event, several 7th and 8th grade math classes competed to raise the most funds.  Additionally, a group from the elementary school held a bake sale and contributed the proceeds to the fundraising drive.

"It is great to see school groups get involved in the fight against hunger," said Novak.  The National Honor Society was excited to make a difference and to donate to North Country where every dollar can help provide food for up to five meals.  "This is definitely our busy season at the food bank.  More people need help during the holiday season.  We are very grateful for the donation from the National Honor Society," said Novak.

There couldn’t be a more meaningful time than now to take a stand against hunger.  Remember, hunger doesn't take a break during the holidays or any day.  All contributions help enusre that children, families and seniors in our communities have enough to eat during the holidays and every day.

North Country receives donation from Riverview Health for the Crookston BackPack Program!
September 10, 2010 - Riverview Health hosted a root beer float fundraiser in early September to raise funds to support the Crookston BackPack Program.  On Friday, September 10, 2010, Riverview Health presented North Country with $500.31 to be used for the BackPack Program in Crookston.  North Country is deeply grateful for the generosity of Riverview Health and its employees and clients.  These funds will help many children in need in the community. 

North Country is working with the Highland Elementary School in Crookston to start a BackPack Program.  In Minnesota, over 50% of those using emergency feeding programs are children. At Highland Elementary School alone, the number of children receiving free or reduced lunch has increased from 34% to 49% in the last 3 years. Typically, most children whose families are struggling don’t eat well when school is not in session. The BackPack Program helps address this issue. As part of this program, children receive a bag filled with nutritious, kid friendly food on a Friday or on the last day of school prior to a holiday. This provides the children with enough food to get them through the weekend, until school is in session again.

The estimated cost of running this program at Highland Elementary School during the 2010/2011 school year is $7,750.00. If we can raise enough funds to cover half of the cost of the program, the United Way of Crookston has generously agreed to provide matching funds up to $3,875.00 to cover the remainder of the cost.

We still need your help to fund this program.  There couldn’t be a more meaningful time than now to take a stand against hunger. No child should have to worry about whether or not they are going to be able to eat when they are not in school. Any contribution you can make will help ensure that no child in our community goes to bed hungry.   


Findings propel six Feeding America food banks serving Minnesota to partner to increase federal food benefits for nearly 180,000 hungry Minnesotans

North Country Food Bank, Inc., a member of the Feeding America network of food banks, today announces that it is joining together with Minnesota’s five additional Feeding America food banks to unveil the results of a pro-bono study conducted on behalf of Second Harvest Heartland, a Feeding America food bank based in St. Paul, Minn., by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), a worldwide strategy consulting firm. That study indicates that Minnesota is leaving approximately $210 million in food and money on the table by not fully participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as “Food Stamps”).  Click here for more information...


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