Open Door Center resident Shane Kay, left, and ODC staff member Devon Eull, package chicken noodle soup in the production room of the Thunderbird Gourmet Foods facility. The line of Pride of Dakota products are made by ODC residents in the Valley City facility before being sold at various retailers and Pride of Dakota shows across the Midwest. Here, the workers package, close, seal and place Pride of Dakota stickers and date stickers on the packages.
Residents at Valley Cityâ€™s Open Door Center have been making Pride of Dakota products since the beginning of this year, and the demand for them just keeps increasing.
In January, the ODC purchased the Thunderbird Ranch Gourmet Foods line and moved it from a small western North Dakota town called Ray to Valley City.
ODC residents produce 29 Pride of Dakota food products that are sold online, at various Pride of Dakota shows, and in various retailers across the Midwest as well as in the Eagleâ€™s Nest Bookstore.
â€śWe have a number of people working on that (project) from mixing to packaging to mailing,â€ť said Mary Simonson, director of the Open Door Center. â€śSo people of all skills can work on that project.â€ť
Thunderbird Ranch Gourmet Foods uses herbs and spices to create mixes for dips, cheeseballs, marinades, soups and breads.
All the recipes are made on site in the kitchen by ODC employees Kay Metcalf and Tiffany Berger, who are the only two who know the secret recipes.
Metcalf said they try to use North Dakota products to create their products. They purchase their sugar from Crystal Sugar, their pasta from Dakota Growers in Carrington, and their flour from the mill in Grand Forks. Their lentils come from Jamestown.
â€śWe try to do as much business in the state as we can,â€ť Metcalf said.
The products are packaged and finished in the facility too.
One way the ODC plans to expand its line is by adding products that are gluten-free. Simonson explained that gluten-free foods benefit people who have autism. She said products that do not contain gluten have been shown to lessen autistic symptoms.
Pride of Dakota is a program created to provide marketing to North Dakota businesses. Pride of Dakota members are able to attend showcases to sell their products and have access to grant and educational opportunities.
Other well-known Pride of Dakota food products are Cloverdale Meats, based in Mandan, and Baker Boy Bake Shop, based in Dickinson.
Sue Milender, food service director at Valley City Public Schools, said the food services staff tries to â€śsupport products that are made or produced in North Dakota.â€ť
But not all Pride of Dakota companies sell food. Other companies sell jewelry, photography and spa products along with a long list of North Dakota-based manufacturers.