Sioux Falls, SD
Not everyone in KELOLAND can afford to put food on the table. And we're not just talking about people without jobs.
While it's sometimes easier to think this only happens in other communities, we have a population called the "working poor" right here at home.
The truck backs up to 'Labor Ready' in Sioux Falls twice a week, delivering hundreds of sack lunches. The meals are sent out each morning with those who get hired for a temporary day labor job. While the meals are free, the executive director of Lunch is Served says the people getting these lunches are not looking for a free lunch.
"These are people who are choosing to work. They're choosing to try to learn some skills and get some experience to earn some money for their family's needs, but the pay they're making isn't quite enough to get them through," Lunch is Served executive director Terry Peters said.
And that's why Peters organizes hundreds of volunteers and makes thousands of sack lunches every year. This week, two groups of KELO-TV employees sign up to help the cause.
"We give them two sandwiches; meat and cheese. We put in a breakfast bar, something salty, something sweet, a fruit cup, either mustard or mayo, spoon and a napkin. And once in a while we put in a little treat like a Twizzler licorice or a fruit snack of some kind," Peters said.
In about an hour and a half, 12 to 15 volunteers can prepare the sandwiches, seal the baggies and fill the bags.
Peters says many times volunteers find this work to be rewarding.
"I know I'm helping someone who needs a meal and if I can provide that it's just something that makes me feel good and I think it is something that's helpful," KELOLAND TV Program Director Karen Floyd said.
While the people filling the lunches never get to meet the people who eat them, Peters makes sure the volunteers know how much it means to those in need.
"I had a lady come up to me once and she grabbed my arm and said, 'I always save my second sandwich and give it to my daughter for her dinner.' And I said to her 'what happens if you don't get a job that day and you don't get a meal?' And she squeezed my arm and said, 'we make do.' And my heart just kind of sank to think these meals are not only nourishing the workers, but in many cases their families are also getting nourishment from these meals," Peters said.
Lunch is Served prepared more than 19,000 meals in 2011 and is already 21 percent ahead of last year's numbers at this time.
Peters says monetary donations are needed most, but in-kind donations for everything from single-serve food items to plastic spoons and napkins greatly help the cause.
To volunteer, visit the Lunch is Served website and check for the next available calendar date.
Items always needed for the lunches include: individually wrapped breakfast bars, single serve fruit cups and desserts, spoons, napkins, fruit snacks, and individually wrapped cookies or bars.