Rapid City, SD
According to Feeding South Dakota, one out of every eight South Dakotans is at risk of going hungry. For children, that number is even higher. That's prompting students at Rapid City Central High School to do something to help their peers in need.
"I did some research last year about South Dakota and I realized that one in five children are going hungry everyday," Rapid City Central senior Kassandra Herding said.
Ever-increasing gas and food prices are intensifying the problem for many families.
"That means having to choose sometimes between putting gas in your car and food. So we decided to help supplement that problem," RCAS coordinator Stacey Rosdahl said.
Last year, some students at Rapid City Central High School thought of a way to help classmates that struggle with food insecurity. It's called the Cobbler Snack Shack and it provides kids in need with food and other basic necessities.
"It's really, really sad, so I took it on for the whole year. We identified over 100 students who needed food at home," Herding said.
"We're helping kids buy things like bus tickets. We're helping with toiletry items. If there's a need we'll try to fill it," Rosdahl said.
The Snack Shack used to operate with the help of donations and student volunteers. But with no guarantee for continued donations, students opted to take a different approach this year and opened the Cobbler Café.
"We just decided to sell students food that they can buy at school during the fourth-block and after school, so they can raise money to feed their friends," Herding said.
Students can choose from dozens of healthy snacks at the Cobbler Café and all of the café's proceeds go to support the Snack Shack.
"It's Cobblers helping Cobblers, so we say buying a snack today is going to feed a Cobbler tomorrow. And I think the kids at this school have a real grasp on the real world, that there are needs out there and they want to help," Rosdahl said.
"Basically, we're selling food to get money for other people to buy more food," Rapid City Central 12th grader Victoria Sheets-Garcia said.
The Cobbler Café earns between $40 and $60 per day and is able to fully-sustain the Snack Shack. It's also teaching students valuable life lessons.
"Pretty much what I'm learning is how you can create something for people to have fun and still help others," Sheets-Garcia said.
"It taught me to be grateful for what I have," Herding said.
"I think the students have all had a really positive experience with it, not only learning about customer service and learning how a store works, but also knowing the bottom reason why we're doing this and helping their fellow classmates," program advisor LuAnn Mattern said.
And with this year's need expected to be greater than last year, keeping the snack shack sustainable is more important than ever.
"I have a feeling that it's going to be a lot higher this year, even a greater need than last year. So it's even more important that this café stays open and accessible to the students," Mattern said.
"It's just amazing. I love the feeling that there's students willing to help," Herding said.
On top of giving hungry students food at school, the Snack Shack sends students in need home with backpacks full of food for the weekend.
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