Rapid City, SD
Hunger is a painful reality for thousands of kids in South Dakota.
For many, school lunches are the only thing keeping them fed on Monday through Friday.
"We've found that many of our area children and students are undernourished on the weekends and that's where we come in," BackPack Program coordinator Ryan Chocholousek said.
Feeding South Dakota's BackPack Program sends underprivileged kids home with food for the weekends.
"When they come back to school on Monday, they're ready to learn and not worrying about whether their bellies are full or not," Meadowbrook Elementary School counselor Dana Livermont said.
Donations to the BackPack Program are down 26 percent from last year, and that's putting a limit on the number of children who can receive assistance.
"Donations are down a little bit. Food costs are up a little bit. So with those two factors coming into play, we have some challenges," Chocholousek said.
In fact, the program has had to reduce the number of backpacks it delivers on both sides of the state. The Rapid City office currently has more than 600 kids on a wait list.
"We serve as many children as we possibly can using what we have to work with. We do the best we can," Chocholousek said.
"Any time we can take away a worry from a child so that they can focus their energy on learning, then that is something good," Livermont said
The program provides backpacks for more than 4,300 kids across the state.
For more information on how you can help, visit Feeding South Dakota's website