Grant award will allow for sustainability and expansion of mobile food pantry program
South Dakota (September 30, 2020) – Today, Avera Health announced a multi-year grant award to Feeding South Dakota in the amount of $160,000 to continue to provide nutritious food through its Mobile Food Pantry Program to food insecure individuals and families in communities across the state. This is the third multi-year grant award to the Mobile Food Pantry Program and is the largest gift from Avera Health to Feeding South Dakota since the partnership began in 2015.
“Avera’s mission is to make a positive impact in the health and lives of the communities and individuals we serve. Nutritious food is simply basic to health and well-being,” said Bob Sutton, President and CEO of Avera Health. “Especially during the COVID-19 crisis, we have been concerned about basic human needs and whether or not those needs are met for people in our state and region. It’s also very important to us to reach out with the compassion of Christ. This includes special attention to those who are marginalized in our society – those who work hard but still struggle to feed their families. All these factors make this partnership a very good fit.”
According to the American Psychological Association, hunger hurts children in multiple ways and can leave negative outcomes. A lack of healthy food not only leads to malnutrition, but low food security. Hunger can also contribute to toxic stress – the long, unrelieved activation of the body’s stress management system. Toxic stress can negatively affect brain development, learning, information processing, and academic achievement in children. For these reasons alone adequate and nutritious food is so important for children on their lifelong journey to becoming successful and productive adults in society.
The Mobile Food Pantry began operations in January 2013 because of a grant award through the State of South Dakota. The Mobile Food Pantry travels across the state to distribute free food to individuals and families in need. Precisely coordinated deliveries allow for the efficient distribution of fruit, vegetables, dairy products, and meat proteins as well as other non-perishable food to communities that lack adequate access to quality and nutritious foods.
In FY20, the Mobile Food Pantry Program distributed 5,097,832 million pounds of food, providing 4,250,000 million meals to thousands of individuals and families in South Dakota. This increase of 300% is largely due to the demands placed on the organization by COVID-19 to feed more than twice the normal number of South Dakotans who were already food insecure. Doing its best to meet the need, Feeding South Dakota added mobile food distributions in twenty western communities, three additional communities in central and eastern South Dakota, and a plan for expansion into five Sioux Falls neighborhoods.
“Now more than ever, this gift could not come at a better time. Due to the long-lasting effects experienced by so many due to COVID-19, the number of people that we typically serve has more than doubled,” said Matt Gassen, CEO for Feeding South Dakota. “This gift allows us to sustain our current distribution model and gives us the opportunity to visit additional neighborhoods and communities that could benefit from the Mobile Food Pantry Program. We invite other businesses, organizations and individuals to join Avera in supporting this vital outreach.”
For a complete listing of all mobile food distributions across the state (in county order) visit www.feedingsouthdakota.org/mobile.
About Avera Health
The Avera Health system has over 19,000 employees and physicians, serving more than 300 locations and 100 communities in a five-state region. Our ministry, our people and our superior value distinguish Avera. We carry on the health care legacy of our sponsors, the Benedictine Sisters of Yankton, S.D., and the Presentation Sisters of Aberdeen, S.D., delivering care in an environment guided by our values of compassion, hospitality, and stewardship. For more information about Avera, see our website at avera.org.
About Feeding South Dakota
Feeding South Dakota, whose mission is to eliminate hunger in South Dakota, is the state’s largest charitable hunger relief organization. In FY20, Feeding South Dakota secured and distributed over 16.7 million pounds of quality nutritious donated and purchased food providing nearly 14 million meals to the one in nine South Dakotans who are food insecure. Feeding South Dakota can distribute this food from our distribution centers in Sioux Falls, Pierre, and Rapid City through its network of hundreds of charitable partner agencies. These organizations then provide this food to individuals who are food insecure through youth programs, senior centers, on-site feeding programs, emergency food pantries, after school programs, and homeless shelters. For more information on Feeding South Dakota, please visit feedingsouthdakota.org, find us on Facebook and Instagram or follow us on Twitter.