Sioux Falls, SD
Feeding South Dakota is responding to a new report that says the need is greater than ever in the state.
191,000 people receive food from Feeding South Dakota progams every year.
36 percent of them are children and 11 percent are elderly.
These new figures released this week are based off of an extensive survey that gets information for the first time from outside agencies served by the non-profit.
Lynn Beehler comes to the Sioux Falls Food Pantry when she falls on hard times. She has a job but over the last decade there've been times when she's struggled to make ends meet for her small family.
"Sometimes I would be in a really, really tight spot, especially when it was just my daughter and I. If we didn't have the extra help, we would have been in trouble," Beehler said.
Like one in four people in the state Beehler is food insecure, according to a new report.
"There are a lot of people out there who do need the help," Beehler said.
"It's unbelievable when you look at the need," Chad Olson said.
Chad Olson went to every agency receiving help from the non-profit and gathered the information for the study. After more than a year of analysis, he was surprised by the final figures.
"Your heart sinks and you kind of realize as an organization, we have to figure out what we do in those communities," Olson said.
Feeding South Dakota is now using the study to better serve the state's hungriest families. Olson says they're looking into adding more freezers and a truck, as well as expanding the mobile food pantry program.
And that's good news for Beehler who knows just how hard it can be to find food.
"I just appreciate Sioux Falls for having a pantry like this and being able for us to get the help that we need," Beehler said.
The report says 78 percent of client households who use Feeding South Dakota fall at or below the federal poverty level.