Eye on KELOLAND: Meals making a difference

Eye on KELOLAND

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Having enough to eat can have a positive impact on your daily life. One Sioux Falls man has made it a mission to give back to the community and make sure local kids don’t go hungry.

If you live in Sioux Falls, there’s a chance you’ve probably eaten at the Barrel House.

Mark Fonder’s restaurant is not only serving up food, but helping the community.

“I’m glad to be in the position that I am to be able to give back,” owner Barrel House, Mark Fonder said.

From countless fundraisers benefiting local organizations to starting Hungry Hearts, a charity in Sioux Falls known for paying for hot lunches for kids in need while they’re at school.

More recently, just this week he made sure students that didn’t have school due to the coronavirus had a meal.

“It is nice to be in the position I am in, in the restaurant business, that’s how we make our money to give back, especially the kids that need a meal,” Fonder said.

Fonder grew up in Sioux Falls and has been in the restaurant business for about 14 years.

“I enjoy people, started out bartending and I liked it, and I bought my first bar and I didn’t have much payroll, was just me and one other person,” Fonder said.

As Fonder’s restaurant business grew, giving back to the community became a no-brainer.

“We did a lot of fundraisers for kids that had cancer and softball teams, and when I opened up the Barrel House, that’s when I decided I was going to give back every Monday night at least 10% of the sales and that is pretty much how Hungry Hearts started,” Fonder said.

Employees, like Carlie Florey, enjoy working at a place that cares about the community.

“Just how much he cares about literally everybody, the kids, all the adults in the community, anybody who does anything in the community, he just likes to give back and he is just a caring guy,” works at Barrel House, Carlie Florey said. “It’s kind of inspiring like if I grow up and start getting into business or something like that, I would want to give back like he does.”

Jesse Severson has worked with Fonder since 2015 and says Fonder has become more of a friend than just a coworker.

“It’s amazing to work for somebody that didn’t grow up with money but has a little bit of money now, but still remembers where he comes from, he is very humble,” kitchen operations manager/ chef Barrel House and KRav’N, Jesse Severson said.

Not only does Fonder thank his employees for their help with his ideas, he also credits his customers.

“They know where the money is going and we try to keep everything local and it’s a lot of charities, human society, everyone has their passions but there’s a lot of repeat, loyal customers that come and make this happen,” Fonder said.

Making a difference one meal at a time.

“I love being around people, I love to help,” Fonder said.

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