Feeding South Dakota needs donations of food and funds to help offset increasing costs and supply chain issues, but the nonprofit also offered reassurance this week: It won’t run out of food.
“We may have to purchase a bit more food so we will not run out. We’re going to have to work a little bit harder and get a little more creative to make sure we can meet the need,” said Jennifer Stensaas, marketing and communications director for Feeding South Dakota.
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Feeding South Dakota experienced more than double the usual demand for its services. Now, Stensaas said community needs remain higher than pre-pandemic levels, and Feeding South Dakota is facing complications in receiving food that’s transported from elsewhere. Monetary and food donations from the public are vital to fill gaps in the food supply.
“We’re having to be a bit more strategic in procuring food. We’re not seeing a lot of donated products available to us,” Stensaas said.
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“(The need) is starting to increase. The holidays put a bit of pressure on families and we’re doing our best to meet that need wherever that is in South Dakota,” she said. “If communities are still doing food drives, we can really use that food.”
Beginning Friday, Rapid City Medical Center and Feeding South Dakota are partnering to sponsor a communitywide food drive in Rapid City. Collection barrels for non-perishable foods will be at eight locations: Rapid City Medical Center Westside, 3810 Jackson Blvd.; Medical Arts Clinic, 717 St. Francis St.; Rapid City Medical Center Tower Roads Clinic, 3024 Tower Road Suite #2; Rapid City Medical Center South Clinic, 101 E. Minnesota St. #210; WRENT Clinic, 241 Minnesota St.; Black Hills Plastic Surgery, 3615 5th St., Suite 101; and Rapid City Medical Center Urgent Care (downstairs) and Rapid City Medical Center second floor/dermatology (upstairs), both at 2820 Mount Rushmore Road.
One federal food resource that aided Feeding South Dakota, the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, has ended. It supplied fresh produce, dairy products and meat to food banks for more than a year. Feeding South Dakota still receives commodities through the USDA’s Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Program, and Stensaas said about 80% of food given out through its mobile food distributions comes from the TEFAP program.
Feeding South Dakota continually looks for other sources to obtain donated food, but those are hindered by supply chain issues. For every six loads of dry food products that could be shipped, currently only one truck is available, Stensaas said.
“Whether it’s a shortage of drivers or equipment, there’s not enough to ship all the product that needs to be shipped, and when you look at refrigerated loads, for every 12 there’s only one truck available,” she said.
Feeding South Dakota is also seeing higher costs to get food into the state. The nonprofit pays the transportation costs to have donated food delivered to South Dakota.
“I would say we’re seeing transportation costs nearly double, and we’re having to look further out for food (such as the East Coast),” Stensaas said. “That costs more and fuel surcharges are also starting to increase.”
Individuals and organizations can double their financial donations to Feeding South Dakota during its Thanksgiving Meal Match Campaign. The campaign’s fundraising goal is $125,000 to provide Thanksgiving meals. Greg and Pam Sands of Sands Wall Systems are offering a dollar-for-dollar matching gift of $25,000 for donations made until Nov. 25. For information or to donate, feedingsouthdakota.org/how-to-help/donate-funds/.
Feeding South Dakota also is participating in South Dakota Day of Giving on Nov. 30, an event that encourages the public to support their favorite nonprofit organizations.
Volunteers are needed year-round to help pack food that Feeding South Dakota gives at its mobile distribution sites. Churches, civic and community groups or individuals are welcome. For information, go to facebook.com/FeedingSD or feedingsouthdakota.org.