Continuing the mission to fight hunger in South Dakota

Eye on KELOLAND

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Feeding South Dakota has a mission to end hunger in South Dakota with a vision of a hunger-free state where everyone has access to nutritious food. The organization now has a new CEO who aims to continue the on-going mission.

Everyday volunteers help out at Feeding South Dakota’s distribution center. They help pack food for the organization’s many programs.

“When I was here earlier this week we did a frozen pack, food that had to be packed up, today we are doing produce, we make the boxes, sort through produce, just whatever is needed,” volunteer, Carrie Aaron said.

Carrie Olson started volunteering last year and has been coming back to help out ever since.

“It’s an incredible experience, it takes three hours, you can come as many times as you want, it’s making a difference, for me especially for kids,” Aaron said.

Making a difference through Feeding South Dakota includes helping fight hunger and allowing everyone to have access to nutritious food.

It’s a mission Feeding South Dakota’s new CEO says is important to everyone.

“It’s a basic need, there’s no one on the planet that doesn’t want to help somebody that’s hungry,” CEO of Feeding South Dakota, Lori Dykstra said.

Lori Dystra took on the role of CEO at the beginning of September.

“I was fortunate enough to come in and have a few weeks with the outgoing CEO, Matt Gassen, after being here for 22 plus years, he had a lot of information to be able to share with me so even in a few weeks sharing all that knowledge was helpful and he was able to take me around the state and introduce me to the teams at the different distribution sites, in Pierre and Rapid, and here in Sioux Falls,” Dykstra said.

Dykstra is from Sioux Falls and has a background in operations and IT. She’s also worked in fundraising and in the non-profit sector for the last five years.

“Once I stepped into non-profit I just knew that was for me, I was missing something and as soon as I got into non-profit I knew that working with a mission behind it was something I was going to do until I retired,” Dykstra said.

Since starting in her new position she’s been busy.

“Trying to meet with as many of the team members as I can, meeting with all the board members individually, meeting with community members and our volunteers, and especially our supporters, our donors, so that I can get to know them and make sure that I’m moving this mission forward in a way that helps support the reason they’re behind us,” Dykstra said.

As well as figuring out how the organization can best serve the state moving forward.

“Post pandemic we’ve been more mobile, with mobile distribution sites, I don’t know if that looks like growing it right now or if it looks like working with more agencies in areas to get food out,” Dykstra said. “You just don’t know who is in that situation where they have to make that impossible choice and whether or not I can buy more groceries for my family or pay my electric bill this month or buy necessary medicine.”

A goal Dykstra aims for one meal at a time.

“Looking ahead to the future for Feeding South Dakota is continuing to be in all of the counties and to be able to get food to all the rural areas, the reservations, urban areas, everywhere,” Dykstra said. “The bottom line is how we can get food to as many people as we can in South Dakota so that no one goes to bed hungry, that’s the ultimate goal.”

September is Hunger Action Month and this year Feeding America is spreading the message of “Food shouldn’t be an impossible choice.”

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