Businesses Commit To Hunger Relief
Business leaders in the southeastern part of the state are committing to raising $1.2 million for Feeding South Dakota. The money is more than a third of the cost of a capital campaign to expand facilities in Sioux Falls. Members of the business community say the issue of hunger is personal.
Leaders of Feeding South Dakota in Sioux Falls want to bring Food Bank and Food Pantry operations under the same roof. For $3 million dollars, Feeding South Dakota can expand its current warehouse, purchase a building next door, and combine the two spaces. Executive Director Matt Gassen says that doubles the square footage for food programs and storage.
"We’re going to be able to the ability to have much larger freezer and cooler space so that we can take on more of that perishable product that’s available across that Feeding America network, but we haven’t been able to take because we don’t have the capacity to do it on site nor could we afford it to rent storage off-site," Gassen says. "One because it’s very expensive and two there’s just not a lot available out there for us, so we’ve had to pass up those loads, and we don’t want to have to do that anymore."
Gassen says the expansion offers the backpack program and senior box program permanent set-ups. He says the Food Pantry can also have a space where people can shop for items, instead of operating out of a building downtown that’s more than 100 years old.
Dan Murphy is the regional president for Wells Fargo Bank. He chairs the Feeding South Dakota Community Appeals Campaign. Murphy says a friend who moved to the U-S from Africa…says America’s greatest assets are its grocery stores.
"And I laughed," Murphy says. "And he said, ‘That’s not funny.’ He said, ‘They’re open 24 hours a day. They have unlimited variety and quantity. It’s only in America.’ And we forget that. Or at least, I forget that."
The fundraising commitment from the Sioux Falls Area Chamber Community Appeals Campaign is $1.2 million. That leaves a capital goal of nearly $2 million from other donations and private fundraising for the local facility.
Feeding South Dakota coordinates the food bank program that distributes 7 million pounds of food a year to 270 programs. For information on the current statewide fundraising campaign, visit Feeding South Dakota's website.