Credit unions across the Dakotas joined forces in a friendly “border battle” food drive competition that culminated last Friday, prior to the FCS final game between the NDSU Bison and the SDSU Jackrabbits. The goal was to collect the most food and cash donations to restock pantries in both states in partnership with the North Dakota Great Plains Food Bank and Feeding South Dakota.
With only two weeks to mobilize, credit unions collected enough food and cash donations to provide an astounding 66,007 meals for those in need! Several business partners of Dakota Credit Union Association also made generous donations to the project, including Co-op Solutions, CUNA Strategic Services, and Millennium Corporate.
For the “final score,” the state that collected the MOST contributions was South Dakota with 49,452 meals provided! Not only do they take home bragging rights, Feeding South Dakota will receive an additional $1,500 donation from the Dakota Credit Union Foundation. North Dakota came in at 7,555 meals provided.
The “bonus kicker” was an additional $1,500 donation from Dakota Credit Union Foundation to the FCS game winner’s state food pantry. After the battle unfolded at Toyota Stadium in Frisco Texas on Sunday, January 8, the Jackrabbits emerged victorious, with the final score of 45 – 21, which means Feeding South Dakota will receive an additional boost to their coffers!
The Dakota Credit Union Association (DakCU) quickly pivoted to support the food provider organizations when the two neighboring states advanced to the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) final game. Because DakCU serves both North and South Dakota credit unions, there was an opportunity to generate support for these charitable organizations that serve a large geographic area while having a bit of good-natured fun with the rivalry between the bordering states’ universities.
“This was a rare opportunity where both of these top athletic programs in such close proximity, not to mention from the same conference, got to square off for the national championship,” said Jeff Olson, DakCU President/CEO. “Dakota credit unions have a long history of stepping up whenever and wherever we are needed, and in this case, we tied credit unions’ ‘people helping people’ philosophy to restock Dakotas’ food pantries while we cheered for our favorite team.”
The timing of this campaign was critical. According to the food provider organizations in both states, there is an urgent need for both nonperishable items and money to support individuals and families who are experiencing hardships while at the same time, donations have decreased.
“This is a crucial time for the Great Plains Food Bank, as food donation levels have reached their lowest point since 2018 when the organization was serving 30,000 fewer individuals,” stated Cara Newberry-Juers, Communications Coordinator for North Dakota’s Great Plains Food Bank. “Along with soaring food costs, a lack of food donations this year led the Great Plains Food Bank to announce an anticipated 1-million-pound distribution shortfall during the current fiscal year. This equates to 800,000 fewer meals for our neighbors in need, and the shortfall comes at a time when hunger impacts one in six individuals in the state of North Dakota,” she added.
South Dakota is experiencing an equally concerning food shortage problem. “This food and fund drive came at a critically important time for our charitable organization,” explained Megan Kjose, Development Director at Feeding South Dakota. “We typically serve about 12,000 households in the month of December, but with the increase in guests utilizing our services, we plan to serve 14,000 households in December alone. This additional support from our community means more struggling families and individuals will receive nutritional meals,” she concluded.
The “Border Battle” food drive winner was determined using the standard formula both food provider organizations use that equates to “meals provided.” For reference, each $1 donation = 3 meals; each 1.2 pounds of food = 1 meal. Donations are accepted at both organizations anytime throughout the year.
About Feeding South Dakota
Feeding South Dakota, a member of Feeding America, serves all 66 counties in South Dakota and distributed 12.9 million pounds of food in its 2022 Fiscal Year. The Feeding South Dakota network of volunteers, local and corporate grocers, area farmers, corporations, foundations, and individual donors support Feeding South Dakota’s 250 agencies, 82 school partners, and 120 mobile food distributions who work together to fulfill the mission of ending hunger in South Dakota.
About Great Plains Food Bank
Now in its 39th year, the Great Plains Food Bank serves as North Dakota’s only food bank. Its partner network includes nearly 200 food pantries, shelters, soup kitchens, and other charitable feeding programs operating more than 100 communities across N.D. and Clay County, Minn. Since 1983, the Great Plains Food Bank, through its array of innovative direct service programs and partner network, have distributed more than 200 million meals to children, seniors, and families in need. The Great Plains Food Bank is a member of Feeding America, the nation’s food bank network, and was named the Not-for-Profit of the Year in 2018 by the Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo Chamber of Commerce.
The Memo is DakCU's newsletter that keeps
Want the Memo delivered straight to your inbox?