For the last 15 years, The Banquet has been addressing food insecurity in the Bismarck-Mandan community. The nonprofit organization has been providing hot meals and fellowship for individuals and families of all ages at Bismarck’s Trinity Lutheran Church every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday and at the Salvation Army every Sunday.
Businesses, service groups, and students have volunteered throughout the years to help The Banquet meet growing demand. Still, the organization has only been able to provide meals four days a week and has been dependent on the generosity of Trinity Lutheran and the Salvation Army for using their facilities.
Then along came Jim and Cindy Barnhardt.
Jim and Cindy Barnhardt’s Vision
In 2016, the Barnhardts had a vision to create a meal ministry and services center in the community. The couple got involved with The Banquet. Jim Barnhardt, owner of Bismarck’s J&R Vacuum & Sewing, joined The Banquet’s board of directors and eventually became the organization’s board chair.
The Banquet became connected with the Dream Center in Los Angeles. Established in 1994, the Dream Center is a Christian network of community centers providing meals and social services for individuals in need or struggling. Barnhardt and a delegation traveled to Los Angeles to meet with officials, tour the Los Angeles center, and apply to open a Dream Center in Bismarck. As of 2020, the are 85 Dream Centers operating throughout the world. Its application long since approved, Bismarck’s Dream Center will soon join its ranks.
Dream Center Bismarck’s main goal is to “Find a Need and Fill It.” The new center being constructed at 1905 Park Avenue will do that and more. Once open, the Dream Center will provide a permanent home to The Banquet, which will occupy a modern 4,500 square foot dining room and a 1,500 square foot kitchen. Meals will be served seven days a week. Dream Center’s Adopt-A-Block Food Distribution, which is currently serving the Bismarck-Mandan area will also operate out of the center. As of now, the mobile grocery distribution service is averaging 500 household visitors per week. Earlier this year, Adopt-A-Block volunteers distributed over 125,000 pounds of groceries in February and another 125,000 pounds in March. The program also distributes free diapers to many local income households in the area.
North Dakota Opportunity Fund Support
The North Dakota Opportunity Fund recently approved a loan for a portion of the financing to construct the new Dream Center Bismarck.
Lewis & Clark Development Group oversees the fund, which leverages private financing to help small businesses, including nonprofits, to attain loans and critical investments. LCD Group worked closely with the Barnhardts and their lender, First International Bank, to secure financing for part of the project.
“This is such a worthwhile project. The innovative nature of the North Dakota Opportunity Fund allows us to help small businesses and nonprofits. The Dream Center’s application was really tailor-made for the fund and we could not be happier to have worked the Barnhardts and First International Bank to help finance this project,” says Matt Burthold, LCD Group commercial lending director.
LCD Group’s support for the Dream Center comes on the heels of its support for construction of the Missouri Slope Areawide United Way’s new Center for Opportunity, which will serve as the area’s permanent homeless shelter and provide services and resources targeting the root causes of poverty in the Bismarck-Mandan metro area.
“Community development is a major part of our mission,” says LCD Group Executive Director Brent Ekstrom. “Dream Center Bismarck is addressing a critical community need and we are proud to help them better deliver on their own mission.”
Click here to learn more about the North Dakota Opportunity Fund and contact Matt Burthold at (701) 667-7601 or at firstname.lastname@example.org to see how LCD Group can help your small business or nonprofit.
Also, visit Dream Center Bismarck’s website to learn more about their work and vision.