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August 01, 2014 10:00 PM

The Banquet And Beyond

Sioux Falls, SD

The Banquet in Sioux Falls has been providing food and fellowship to those in need for the past 29 years. While it's main mission is to feed the hungry, you may be surprised at how much more The Banquet provides thanks to its volunteers.

When you think of The Banquet, this is what comes to mind.

"We're a feeding ministry. We serve hot meals to people in need in our community," Tamera Jerke-Liesinger said.

But after nearly three decades in Sioux Falls, The Banquet has become entrenched and that often leads to extra experiences for its guests. Jerke-Liesinger is the Executive Director and she says, none of it could happen without an army of volunteers.

"We have people who come and volunteer in our children's room, people who come and help with Project S.O.S. It's not just limited to just serving meals here. There's a lot that goes on behind the scenes here at the banquet," Jerke-Liesinger said.

Staff here has become facilitators for other organizations looking to help those in need and they're happy to do it.

Local law enforcement came to The Banquet recently looking for underprivileged kids who could use a fishing date.

Meanwhile, Embrace Church in Sioux Falls teamed up with the facility to provide family portraits for its guests.

"So for us it was just a way to look for something that could be an added benefit to their guests. Something that could really just amplify their effectiveness and be something special that would bless them," Care Pastor Matt Morrison said.

The portraits are a part of Embrace's "One Thing" project and they've actually asked their congregation to donate frames to go along with the portraits.

You wouldn't think a picture would be that big of a deal in this, the "selfie" age, but Morrison says reaction he received from one mother really hit home.

"She said can I come back next week because I'd like to bring my two-year-old, we've never had a picture together. Those types of situations are the stories that you hear and it really kind of takes you back because you don't expect to hear that kind of situation in this day and age," Morrison said.

It highlights the limitations some of the people in the community have and a lot of those people come to The Banquet.

"For us, the challenge of working with an organization like The Banquet is trying not to partner with them almost every month because there's so much need in the populations that they serve and so many different ways that we could come at it. So we're always looking for different ways we can feed into that," Morrison said.

That's what Jerke-Liesinger likes to hear. Her staff is more than willing to work with any group that has a new idea on how to help and credits the facilities "volunteer power" with past and future success.

"Because we've been here for 29 years, we were one of the first non-profits in the city doing what we're doing. And so we have a lot of ties and a lot of things have branched out in our community because of The Banquet. So we are able to work really closely with a lot of other ministries, other organizations to meet people's needs in our community," Jerke-Liesinger said.

Project S.O.S is The Banquet's main mission right now as school approaches. The Banquet is looking to help students in need of supplies for class. Cliff Avenue Greenhouse has offered to host a Chili Feed to help raise funds for the program.

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