School Food Pantry
Despite the benefits of the BackPack Program, it does come with limitations. Currently, 75 percent of Feeding South Dakota’s BackPack Program participants share the items in the BackPack with at least one other family member. Of the students sharing BackPacks, they share with an average of 3.84 members. In addition, the number of BackPack Program participants drops steeply from elementary to middle school and again from middle to high school. This is due in part from the stigma that increases as these children get older as well as the fact that the "backpack" is not adequate for students in middle school and high school. An adolescent, especially one who is active and growing, could easily eat the entire package of food in one sitting. A School Food Pantry Program will allow Feeding South Dakota to better target this age group and meet their nutritional needs. The program will help fill the current hunger gap seen with the BackPack Program.
School Food Pantry Programs help to end child hunger by providing food to children and their families at school. School-based pantries are located on the grounds of a school to provide an easily accessible source of food assistance to low-income students and their families. A school pantry provides an opportunity to provide perishable foods that the BackPack Program is unable to distribute like meat, dairy, bread, eggs and produce.
Feeding South Dakota currently has school food pantries in Axtell Park, Whittier Middle School, and Hawthorne Elementary School in Sioux Falls. The following schools will resume school food pantries in the fall of 2021: the Vocational Building of Rapid City Area Schools, General Beadle Elementary, South Middle School, North Middle School and the Douglas School District in Box Elder.