Food Security Action Team

Increasing access to charitable food sources

5-Year Goal

Provide access to charitable food resources within ½ mile of residences in neighborhoods where 20% or more of households receive SNAP benefits and do not have access to public transportation. (Target: Three of eight neighborhoods.)

 Primary objectives:

Align existing food resources to create an efficient access system

Develop a tactical plan to address food insecurity issues

Monitor performance indicators and the effect of changes

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.

Educational Milestones

KINDERGARTEN READINESS Entering kindergarten ready to learn is a predictor of a child’s future educational attainment.

GRADE 3 READING PROFICIENCY Up to third grade, one learns to read. After third grade, one reads to learn. Falling behind in reading in elementary school is an educational handicap few children overcome.

GRADE 8 MATH PROFICIENCY Mastery of basic math skills is necessary to move on to algebra, and mastery of algebra is strongly linked to high school success and college enrollment.

HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION High school graduates enjoy higher lifetime earnings and are less likely to depend on welfare or become involved in the criminal justice system than those who drop out.

POST-SECONDARY ENROLLMENT Post-secondary education is the gateway to the middle class. To be successful in the global economy some sort of post-secondary education is necessary.

POST-SECONDARY DEGREE COMPLETION A post-secondary degree or certificate is key to long-term financial gain, job stability, and success in and out of the workplace.

Food Security Action Team members

Taylor Funke, Helpline Center
Joel Gackle, Community Stakeholder
Matt Gassen, Feeding South Dakota
Josh Hayes, Faith Temple Food Giveaway
Meg Hentges, South Dakota Public Broadcasting
Tom Holmes, Community Stakeholder
Beth Honerman, SD Department of Health
Justin Kosec, Our Saviors Lutheran Church
Stephanie Peterson, Dakota Rural Action
Marcie Priestley, The Salvation Army of Sioux Falls
Tami Prostrollo, Nightwatch Food Truck Ministry
Holly Schleuter, Minnehaha County Human Services
Michaela Seiber, South Dakota Urban Indian Health
Allison Struck, Sioux Falls Public Schools Education Foundation
Morgan Vander Zee, City of Sioux Falls Health Department

Food Security Action Team photo

Members of the Food Security Action Team pause for a photo during a recent meeting.

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.

Share This