One in eight South Dakotans is struggling to put food on the table, including one in six children. A new survey says the numbers are even more dramatic when you go to the central part of the state.
"Statistically, we know there is enough food in our country to feed every hungry individual," Kerri DeGraff said.
Yet, 12 percent of South Dakota's population isn't getting the proper amount of food. A Feeding America study found more than 100,000 South Dakotans are considered food insecure, including 47,000 children.
"I might not have enough food so that I can have three meals a day, or I might have enough food to last me all through the week, but I don't have enough food to get me through the weekend. So, while I have some food, I don't have enough food," DeGraff said.
Feeding South Dakota volunteers served 10.4 million meals last year, but the struggle to decrease the hunger gap continues. During large periods of time during the year, food pantry shelves remain bare.
"So, we're missing 18 million meals overall, and as an organization, we're already providing 10 million and that doesn't equate into the amount that we're missing," DeGraff said.
The pantry in Sioux Falls served 41,000 people over the past year. That's a 90 percent increase since 2009. That growth, as well as inconsistent periods of donations, puts a strain in the group's efforts to help feed the people who need it the most.
Even though the food insecurity levels are not going down in South Dakota, there are different concepts being discussed to help bring that level down.
"Developing a pantry that can actually travel and do distributions like we did in the central part of the state. We feel that model is one that we could not only apply to the central part of the state, but we could move to the eastern or the western part of the state," DeGraff said.
More food for more people to help feed the need.
To go along with new, innovative ways to get food to more people, DeGraff says donations of food or funds will also go a long way in bringing the hunger gap down.