Food Security Action Team
Increasing neighborhood access to food
Create equitable and sustainable access to food in each neighborhood in a dignified and culturally appropriate manner.
Ask any teacher. Hungry kids don’t do well in the classroom. Even short-term food insecurity can cause behaviors that affect academic achievement, and ultimately impact high school graduation rates.
That’s a big deal to Thrive’s Food Security Action Team, or FSAT.
Feeding America estimates that 7,000 kids growing up in Sioux Falls live in households that struggle to put adequate food on the table.
FSAT works to align local charitable food resources and close hunger gaps. But sometimes our job feels like a never-ending game of Whac-A-Mole.
Of course, childhood hunger and food insecurity are not amusing. But the frustration is real as the targets continue to move.
Food Insecurity: There Is Good News
FSAT members have helped whack several moles during the pandemic:
- Thrive’s Kid Link Riverside became the test case for Feeding South Dakota’s “get food to the people who need it, don’t make them come to us” strategy. Three of Feeding South Dakota’s new neighborhood distribution centers now serve families of Laura B. Anderson Elementary School. Surveys show that families are pleased with the new access points.
- Faith Temple Food Giveaway hasn’t let up on its commitment to distribute food on Friday afternoons at the W.H. Lyon Fairgrounds. Generally, between 800 and 900 families are served each week, and there’s no limit to how many times a family can get help.
- At the height of the pandemic in the summer of 2020, 211 Helpline fielded thousands of calls for food assistance. Logistical challenges forced distribution sites to move, so 211 and other agencies helped families track the changes.
- And Helpline partnered with Faith Temple to access a United Way Worldwide grant to get charitable food to households without transportation via DoorDash.
- These programs are supplemented by The Salvation Army’s food pantry and delivery program, which abolished photo ID requirements and diversified its food selection.
That’s a lot of progress. Combine that with expanded food resources available through the American Rescue Plan and you’d think it was time to declare victory and go home.
Too bad moles keep popping up. Things like:
- Getting to food distribution sites and hauling groceries home for families without vehicles.
- Arranging work schedules to line up with the days and times food distribution sites are open.
- Working around limits on how often a family in need can request help.
- Figuring out why low-income families don’t sign up for SNAP (food stamps) or WIC benefits.
And here’s the monster mole: Communication.
FSAT continues to work toward a solution that helps ensure families in need — from all the diverse communities in Sioux Falls — find and reach the groceries and meals they need to keep their kids well fed.
Thrive Action Teams
Thrive Action Teams are key to our mission. They address obstacles to student success by focusing on creating systemic change in the conditions surrounding the educational system.
Action Teams are comprised of individuals who:
- Represent a cross-section of business, government, nonprofit and faith-based communities.
- Have knowledge and experience to contribute to the ecosystem issue being addressed.
- Are willing to make a commitment to participate regularly in Action Team activities.
Team members continue to ask the question, “Do we have the right people at the table?” While the ideal size for an effective group at this level is around 15 members, Thrive Action Teams ebb and flow based on current topics. New and innovative opportunities for volunteers are often available. Contact us to learn more.
Food Security Action Team Members
Allison Struck, Sioux Falls Public Schools Education Foundation
Beth Honerman, SD Department of Health
Chenise Weber, Helpline Center
Holly Schleuter, Minnehaha County Human Services
Jen Keller, Feeding South Dakota
Joel Gackle, Community Stakeholder
Josh Hayes, Faith Temple Food Giveaway
Justin Kosec, Our Savior’s Lutheran Church
Lori Dykstra, Feeding South Dakota
Meg Hentges, South Dakota Public Broadcasting
Michaela Seiber, South Dakota Urban Indian Health
Shelby Kommes, Sioux Falls Health Department
Stephanie Peterson, Fruit of the Coop
Tami Prostrollo, Nightwatch Food Truck Ministry