Pierce County Farmers Union president R Jay Paul and county secretary Sheila Ostrem haul grocery bags out to cars as they line up outside the Rugby Food Pantry. Chris Aarhus / NDFU

Pierce County Farmers Union (PCFU) ordinarily does a co-op meal at the Pierce County Fair each summer, but not with the ongoing pandemic.

Instead, the organization teamed with the Rugby Food Pantry and donated time and money. With the help of a $500 Community Stewards grant from North Dakota Farmers Union, PCFU donated $750 to the food pantry and helped distribute groceries to 60 needy families in the Rugby area.

“We thought about the Community Stewards program and NDFU donating to the Great Plains Food Bank and thought, you know, this would be a good project to do,” PCFU President R Jay Paul said.

He credited county secretary Sheila Ostrem with the idea. Ostem said it made sense considering all of the problems associated with the pandemic.

“What better way for us to get out there and help,” Ostrem said. “Through all of this with people losing their jobs and some who may not have a job to go back to, if we can do something to help the community, we should do that.”

Vonnie Degenstein, who has been running the Rugby Food Pantry for 30 years, said the community has been great about donating.

“People have been very generous with us,” she said.

Paul said lending support to this cause is important considering the circumstances.

“It’s hard for some people,” he said. “People have gotten laid off. I heard on the news that people at home are spending $100 more a month on groceries on average than they did before. We wanted to help folks out.”

— Chris Aarhus, NDFU Editor