SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — There are 199 food banks across the United States, including Feeding South Dakota.
The organization serves all 66 counties in the state but is facing challenging times during its busiest stretch of the year.
The mission of Feeding South Dakota is to end hunger. It’s a goal the organization strives for 12 months a year. The need is magnified during the holidays.
“People are stretching their dollars even further and with rising gas costs and rising food costs, we see that our neighbors are stretching their grocery bills even further,” Feeding South Dakota CEO Lori Dykstra said.
Feeding South Dakota’s mission was on full display during the week leading up to Thanksgiving. They handed out thousands of meals during distribution events in Sioux Falls and Rapid City.
“We saw 1,000 families here in Sioux Falls and we saw 1,100 families out in Rapid City so 2,100 families got a really great Thanksgiving meal thanks to our donors,” Dykstra said.
“I just got a huge bill for my car, getting my car repaired, so I wouldn’t be able to buy Thanksgiving if it weren’t for this,” Brandon resident Kristin said.
Kristin recently moved to Brandon from Colorado.
“I’m a single mom. I’ve been doing it on my own for about six years now and I have two little boys and it makes a huge difference financially for us,” Kristin said.
The meal also provided a sense of confidence moving forward.
“Everything’s going to be ok,” Kristin said.
As November comes to an end so too does Lori Dykstra’s third month as CEO of Feeding South Dakota.
“I am loving it. This is the greatest job. I feel blessed that I get to come to this place every day. It doesn’t feel like work,” Dykstra said.
One of the challenges Dykstra will face during her next 90 days is the current supply chain issue.
“For every 12 loads of refrigerator items there’s one truck and for every six dry loads of items there’s one truck, so you can imagine for Feeding South Dakota that’s a challenge. We’re in the middle of the country so getting trucks to bring food to us is a big challenge right now,” Dykstra said.
The beginning of December brings anything but a lull for Dykstra and her staff as they prepare for Christmas.
“We are in our busiest season. We’ve seen an increase this month of 15 to 20% of neighbors coming to our mobile distributions to get food and we expect that to be at least stable or possibly increase a little,” Dykstra said.
December’s box will be a special one with the addition of pork loin and all the fixings.
“10,000 of our families across the state of South Dakota who receive our mobile boxes will get that holiday meal in with their monthly box,” Dykstra said.
Volunteers pack those boxes. The generosity of the public will play an important role in the future success of Feeding South Dakota.
“We have volunteers that come here every day and pack boxes, they show up at our mobile sites and help put boxes into people’s cars as they’re coming through, our neighbors who are in need, so volunteering and donations are probably the best two ways you can help us right now,” Dykstra said.
“Everybody here wants to be here and it is a blast. It’s just so much fun and you feel like you’re contributing a little bit,” Brandon Volunteer Teresa Dickmann said.
Volunteer Teresa Dickmann spent her day packing canned beef, fruit, and vegetables.
Once the boxes were full, sealed, and stacked, Craig Nordby wrapped them in plastic to be shipped.
“We don’t want people going hungry. There’s plenty of food in this country, in this world, so we want to make sure it gets distributed to people who really need it,” Sioux Falls Volunteer Craig Nordby said.
Helping Feeding South Dakota bring an end to food insecurity.
“That’s the goal, to end hunger,” Dykstra said.
Local businesses are also helping fight hunger. I-State Truck Center recently donated $30,000 to Feeding South Dakota.
Click HERE if you’d like to donate your time or money to Feeding South Dakota.