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Feeding South Dakota sees increase in demand

Food at a Feeding South Dakota facility awaiting distribution.
Food at a Feeding South Dakota facility awaiting distribution.

The number of people seeking help from Feeding South Dakota’s assistance programs increased by 22% in the last year, according to the organization.

They attributed this increase to inflation causing grocery prices to rise and lingering effects from the COVID-19 pandemic.

While their three main distribution centers are located in Sioux Falls, Rapid City and Pierre, they have worked to make sure the state’s rural communities also have access to their resources, according to Feeding South Dakota Volunteer Coordinator Isabella Oliver.

They have about 120 mobile food sites that distribute food and are partnered with about 250 other agencies statewide.

“We really are working in our rural communities to provide more and more access to food for folks who have a hard time getting it in those food deserts,” Oliver said.

They are also working to bring their assistance programs to tribal reservations in South Dakota.

“We work really closely with the tribes to supplement the food programs they already have,” Oliver said. “And so, we're meeting the need the best we can. You know, not just what we think is best, but what they actually need.”

The increased demand has led to a higher need for volunteers. Oliver said they had to recently change their volunteer procedure. Now, when a group registers together they need to verify all slots instead of being under one name.

“Occasionally, not every time, we'll have groups that don't fulfill those spaces that they are committing to,” Oliver said. “So just to add some extra accountability and make sure we are getting the volunteers in that we need, and making sure those spaces are available for volunteers who want to serve, our procedure is now that if those reserved slots are not accounted for or confirmed by the group leader, then we release those to back to the public.”

Oliver said Feeding South Dakota has about 2,200 volunteers every month and they serve about 40,000 individuals.

Anyone needing food assistance or looking to volunteer can learn more

Elizabeth is an intern with South Dakota Public Broadcasting.