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United Way to kick off campaign against poverty this week

Submitted Logo by United Way of Grand Forks, East Grand Forks and Area

A local organization soon will launch its campaign to fight poverty in the Grand Forks area, and it aims to surpass last year's contributions.

The United Way of Grand Forks, East Grand Forks and Area will kick off the United to Fight Poverty campaign Tuesday with Stack the Stage, an event that allows residents to donate nonperishable food and personal care items to nonprofit food banks in the Grand Forks area.

"Our continual goal is to work on the poverty issues," United Way President and CEO Pat Berger said. "Every dollar helps. It stays local."

This is the second year United Way has focused on reducing poverty. The organization switched its mission in 2016 from one that sets a monetary goal to a group that focuses on one major issue.

Grand Forks has the highest poverty rate among the four largest cities in North Dakota, according to U.S. Census Bureau data from 2015. That fact played a role in United Way's push to focus on a singular issue. The goal is to lower the poverty rate to fourth among the state's largest cities by 2030.

The group raised more than $1 million during last year's campaign, and Berger hopes contributors will surpass that this year.

The Census is expected to release data on poverty rates this week, Berger said, adding she is excited to see if the poverty rate in Grand Forks has fallen.

United Way hosted a Stack the Stage event last year, and contributors filled the stage in Town Square. Berger said she wasn't sure how many items her organization gathered.

"We gave up counting because (the items) came in so fast," she said.

Those who can't stay for lunch Tuesday can drop off their items in the "drive-thru" along South Third Street by Town Square. From there, members of the Grand Forks Downtown Rotary Club will take the items to the stage.

People are talking about poverty in Grand Forks, and Berger said she was glad the campaign brought awareness to the issue.

"I am very pleased that people are recognizing the poverty that, unfortunately, does exist in our community," she said.

If you go

Who: United Way of Grand Forks, East Grand Forks and Area

What: Stack the Stage

When: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Where: Town Square in downtown Grand Forks

Why: Collecting nonperishable food and personal care items for local food banks

More info: Those who bring food get $2.50 off meal from New Flavors Food Truck. Grand Forks Downtown Rotary Club will collect items from vehicles if people wish to drop off items but don't stay for lunch.

On the web: For a list of items

April Baumgarten

April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, and covers business and political stories. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family continues to raise registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college, she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as the Dickinson city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.

Have a story idea? Contact Baumgarten at 701-780-1248.

(701) 780-1248