Feeding SD Breaks Ground On New Facility
Feeding South Dakota is building a brand new facility in Sioux Falls. Leaders originally planned to expand their current warehouse, but they say they can build a new space for about the same price. Wednesday they broke ground on the project, and community partners are raising millions of dollars for the upgrade.
Stakeholders working to eliminate hunger pierce black dirt with gold-colored shovels for a photo op. They’re standing on ground in the northern part of Sioux Falls where six acres of overgrown grass is slated to become a Feeding South Dakota facility.
Executive director Matt Gassen says the plan includes 50,000 square feet.
“We know that we’re going to be able to handle much more product. We’re going to be able to do it more efficiently,” Gassen says. “We’re going to have much greater refrigerated storage so that we can handle more frozen and refrigerated products so that we’re able to provide better, more nutritional food to the individuals and families that we’re serving from this location in eastern South Dakota – and also being able to use this location as kind of a staging ground to be pushing product out to our facilities in Pierre and Rapid City as well.”
Gassen says Dale and Diane Jans are donating $125,000 to make the move possible. He hopes to complete the building and switch locations by the end of June.
Tom Simmons is a past chair of the Sioux Falls Development Foundation. He says this effort started with a conversation with Feeding South Dakota’s leader three years ago.
"And it was not about building buildings, necessarily. It was not about generating all kinds of stuff. It really started with the need and worked backwards," Simmons says. "Feeding South Dakota has never asked for more than they absolutely need, and the need continues. And this building is going to be so important as a tool to get after that need and make a difference that will ultimately contribute to our quality of life."
The Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce and Feeding South Dakota collaborated to drum up financial support from area backers. Hundreds of individuals, churches, and businesses pledged money to the campaign. The last chunk of $150,000 from Walmart took donations past the goal of $1.2 million.
Dan Murphy with Wells Fargo chairs the Sioux Falls campaign. "We live in an exceptional community where people join hands when they see some common need, and they put aside business issues and other things to work hard collaboratively.
Feeding South Dakota wants to distribute another 5 million meals each year statewide by 2020. The problem isn’t that hunger needs are exploding that quickly; it’s that the current distribution of more than 10 million meals doesn’t get enough food to hungry families.
The new facility is farther from central Sioux Falls, so Feeding South Dakota is tracking information to figure out how many people walk, bike or take the bus to the food pantry. Leaders plan to establish monthly food distribution in a high-need area of town when they move Feeding South Dakota to its new facility next summer.
The donations announced Wednesday are part of an overall goal of $3 million. Feeding South Dakota is accepting donations, and leaders hope to surpass that total by this fall.