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August 22, 2014 10:05 PM

Banquet West Rapidly Growing In Sioux Falls

Sioux Falls, SD

In February, The Banquet expanded to a growing portion of Sioux Falls, the northwest corner. Every Wednesday evening at 6:00 volunteers gather at the Sioux Empire Fairgrounds to serve a warm meal.

The people that come to Banquet West are from all different walks of life, but have one thing in common; it can be difficult to have a warm meal on the table every night.

"We have people that are coming after work; we have a lot of people that live in this neighborhood. They own homes or they rent homes and it's just difficult after you paid all your expensive to put a meal on the table," The Banquet Executive Director Tamera Jerke-Liesinger said.

Jerke-Liesinger has seen the mission and ministry at Banquet West flourish. With 42 people served on the first night it opened in February to now serving an average of 120 people each Wednesday. On the biggest night so far, volunteers served 168 people in this building.

"We've had a lot of people who said, 'I never knew about the banquet, or I knew about the banquet, but I didn't know if I qualified to come,' so now that we're out here and they are learning about it, it's benefiting a lot of people in a positive way," Jerke-Liesinger said.

One person it benefits is Cheryl Schipper. Schipper comes nearly every Wednesday to get a warm nutritious meal.

"It's a good thing that they do for people that are maybe hungry and can't afford to eat,"Schipper said.

Schipper utilizes this mission if there isn't enough money after the bills are paid each month.

"It benefits us because we have a meal to eat and if we are maybe in between incomes, it's a place to come and get food," Schipper said.

Not just the delicious food, like pork chops on this particular night, but the volunteers who put in the extra time to serve and volunteers say they are just as grateful for the opportunity as those getting the meals. 

"The first time I served it humbled me so much that I needed to be able to do this to help other people," Leone Howes said.

Howes volunteers often because she says she has walked in the same shoes as some who come to Banquet West.

"I've been where they have, I've been homeless myself," Howes said.

She says she see firsthand the help this provides many families in KELOLAND. Banquet West serves every Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. If you are interested in donating or serving at Banquet West or The Banquet go to thebanquetsf.org.

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