SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — From South Dakota’s biggest cities, to its rural areas, there’s a problem many families are facing: food insecurity.
A 2020 study from Feeding America released just weeks ago shows food insecurity exists in every South Dakota county.
The rate ranges from nearly 5 percent in Lincoln County to about 26 percent in Todd County.
Bryan Long started coming to the Salvation of Army of Huron for its Genesis Feeding Program after he retired.
It’s a free meal service for the community five days a week.
“It helped me by not being hungry. That’s the main factor. If you’re hungry you can’t do a whole lot of anything,” Salvation Army custodian Bryan Long said.
Today, he continues to eat there for lunch because he’s now the custodian.
Lt. Shannon Bluer was recently appointed to Huron’s Salvation Army.
She says on average about 45 people take part in the Genesis Feeding Program, although some are kids from the organization’s day camp.
“I believe it has a lot to do with the state of the economy right now and the price of gas and child care and it could be personal. They could be seeking employment and in a hard time in their lives right now and just need that supplemental help,” Salvation Army Lt. Shannon Bluer said.
The Mitchell Food Pantry is also helping families, and it’s seeing an increased demand.
Karen Pooley is on the board of directors.
She says numbers went down during the pandemic, likely because of COVID-19 assistance.
But now there’s been a 35 percent increase in households using the pantry over a two month period.
“It takes a lot more money to buy groceries these days, and I think that’s what people are seeing,” Mitchell Food Pantry board member Karen Pooley said.
It’s not just the Mitchell organization seeing an uptick in numbers.
Feeding South Dakota CEO Lori Dykstra says the non-profit has seen a 20 percent increase statewide in guests coming to its mobile food distributions over last year.
It’s expecting a 2.5 percent increase each month moving forward.
“We suspect we’re seeing the increase because the rise in grocery, inflation, with gas prices being higher, families having to stretch their dollar further, so we’re seeing working families who are just needing families to help us supplement and get them through to their next grocery run,” Feeding South Dakota CEO Lori Dykstra said.
According to a 2020 study from Feeding America, the food insecurity rate in South Dakota is about 8.5 percent.
That equals about 75,000 people.
“Everybody has to eat, and you know we hear the speech all the time about how kids need food in their stomachs to concentrate and study and get more out of their schooling,” Pooley said.
And these organizations are here to help fill the gap for anyone in need.
“It is our way of doing the most good for our local community,” Bluer said.