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ND Ag Department Asking for Harvest Time Help to Fight Hunger

North Dakota food growers are being asked to help get a quarter-million pounds of fresh produce to thousands of hungry kids and seniors in the state. (North Dakota Department of Agriculture)
North Dakota food growers are being asked to help get a quarter-million pounds of fresh produce to thousands of hungry kids and seniors in the state. (North Dakota Department of Agriculture)
August 8, 2016

BISMARCK, N.D. -- For many North Dakota farmers and gardeners, August is harvest time, and the state's Department of Agriculture is asking them to help meet the needs of thousands of hungry people.

More than 93,000 children, families and seniors in the state rely on food assistance every year. To help, the state is seeking donated fruit and vegetables for the Hunger Free North Dakota Garden project. Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said this year they've set a goal of collecting and distributing at least 250,000 pounds of fresh produce.

"People may go to the convenience store and buy something that is cheap, easy and it may not necessarily be the best thing for them," Goehring said. "And this is an opportunity to get those vegetables to our children and to the elderly."

Last year, one of the project's partners, the Great Plains Food Bank, distributed more than 11 million meals, with about a third going to help children. This level of hunger comes just two years after hydraulic fracturing industry helped make North Dakota's economy the fastest-growing in the country.

According to Goehring, many farmers and gardeners have planted crops specifically to help the food project. But he's also asking anyone with extra produce to consider donating.

"If people are not aware of where a soup kitchen may be or a food pantry," Goehring said, "we will work with them to help them identify somebody close, or a way in which we can help them get it to the right place."

To find a local food drop, producers can go to the North Dakota Department of Agriculture website at nd.gov/ndda.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - ND