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What’s the good news?

North Dakota’s rate of food insecurity (lack of enough food every day for a healthy and active life) is among the lowest in the United States.

The not-so-good news?

In North Dakota, with one of the strongest state economies in the United States, there are seniors, children and families not finding enough food.

9.0 percent, or about 28,700 of North Dakota’s households, did not have enough food for a healthy and active lifestyle from the period of 2015-2017. While this rate is lower than most other states, the rate shows a gradual increase over the past 10 years.

Want to know more? This information comes from the USDA study, Household Food Security in the United States

“And how are the children?”

North Dakota’s rate of childhood food insecurity is the lowest in the nation. However, there are still at least 16,130 children who experience food insecurity in North Dakota.

Want to know more? See the research from Feeding America

Does hunger look the same in all parts of North Dakota?

No, there are counties and areas with high rates of food insecurity. The counties of Benson, Cass, Grand Forks, Rolette, and Sioux have food insecurity rates at or above 10 percent. Some of the people who experience food insecurity are Native American people who were forced to re-settle to reservation lands where their access to food and land was greatly changed and/or restricted.

Want to know more? See the Map the Meal Gap research from Feeding America

What is a food desert?

Food deserts are places where people live without ready access to fresh, healthy and affordable food. Access to healthy food is key to a healthy life, including the life of our communities.

North Dakota has lost about 20% of its grocery stores in rural areas, in towns with fewer than 2100 people. This map from partners in the ND Rural Grocer Initiative helps to show where food deserts exist. The green areas show that people live 10 or fewer miles from a grocery store. The pink areas show where people live more than 10 miles from a grocery store. Orange shows community-owned or cooperatively-owned stores, where there is often some kind of local government support such as store ownership.

People are surprised to learn that here in North Dakota, where we grow food to feed the world, a number of our counties are classified as food deserts. Agriculture is North Dakota’s leading industry, and we lead the nation in the production of several crops including flax, canola, wheat, dry beans and others. However, it is the raw ingredients that we grow, and most of these ingredients leave the state to be processed before they come back ready to cook or eat.

Want to know more? See the USDA Food Environment Atlas.

How to improve quality of life and reduce hunger?

North Dakota Compass tracks key measures and offers solutions for improving quality of life, demographics, poverty and other key measures.

Want to know more? See the North Dakota Compass website.

How do people find food?

In the last year (2017-18), the Great Plains Food Bank, through their partner network of food pantries, emergency meal programs, and other community partners, served 97,170 people, of which 36% were children and 12% were seniors.

  • 34% report choosing between paying for food and paying for medicine/medical care
  • 69% of clients couldn’t afford to eat balanced meals
  • 44% report choosing between paying for food and paying for utilities
  • 34% report making choices between paying for food and paying for transportation
  • 35% report choosing between paying for food and paying for housing
  • 75% of clients had at least one chronic disease, and 84% of those clients reported living with more than one chronic disease

What programs  and organizations help people access healthy food?

Learn more about how our coalition partners are helping to ensure access to food for North Dakotans of all ages by visiting the ND Food Helpers Organizations page.