Sioux Falls, SD
The amount of people living in South Dakota without the right amount of food is on the rise, especially among children. About one out of every five kids is considered food insecure.
"You may not know who is struggling with hunger, but I tell people it's the kids who live next door to you or who play in your kid's softball team," backpack program coordinator Allison Struck said.
Feeding South Dakota started the backpack program in 2007 to help kids get needed food when they're not at school. It started in two schools in Sioux Falls and now helps thousands of kids in 37 schools, and the need for help is growing.
"I think it surprises many people when they realize that between the two largest metropolitan areas in South Dakota, we're distributing over 5,500 of these food packages a weekend to kids that are just at risk of not having enough food to eat on the weekend," executive director Matt Gassen said.
About 20 volunteers with Midcontinent Communications spent a part of their Wednesday evening filling 400 backpacks for the summer program at six area schools.
"I think it's just wonderful that Sioux Falls, as a community, can come together like this, to take care of those that are less fortunate," volunteer Quentin Coulter said.
During the school year, almost 80 volunteers will be filling thousands of backpacks each week. Without the extra help, those kids wouldn't get the food they need.
"Until you see that those are emptied and the food has made its way into the backpacks and onto the pallets, it's difficult to describe what kind of impact you're having right here in your own community," Struck said.
As long as there is a need in Sioux Falls and in South Dakota, programs like the backpack program and Feeding South Dakota will be here just in case.
"No matter how good the jobs are, no matter how well they pay, there's always going to be folks that come in along with that growth that are going to need assistance, and in this case it's going to be children," Gassen said.
Feeding South Dakota is always looking for donations, whether it is food or cash support. If you would like to know more about what they need and how to help, visit the Feeding South Dakota website.