COMMON GROUND BLOG

Find trends and outlooks, education and more on financing rural America from Farm Credit Services of America.

More Content

Easing Hunger Over Winter Break

School breaks are tough for the thousands of families served by Feeding South Dakota. Already tight budgets get further squeezed when children are home and have no free or reduced-price school lunches to keep them nourished.

Feeding South Dakota backpack programSo long before schools closed their doors for Christmas break, Feeding South Dakota began packing food into bags that would slip easily into the backpacks of school children who otherwise might not have enough to eat during the holiday season. About 5,500 bags in all, each containing a selection of hearty soups, tuna and other sources of protein, breakfast foods, shelf-stable milk, nutritious snacks and a few kid favorites, such as mac and cheese. More than 3,600 bags were reserved for children in the Sioux Falls area, where nearly 50 percent of all school children live in households with incomes low enough to qualify for subsidized lunch.

In the past, Feeding South Dakota filled student backpacks with enough food to bridge nutrition gaps for the full two-week winter break. But the weight of the food bags proved too heavy for younger children, said Kerri DeGraff with Feeding South Dakota.

This season, Feeding South Dakota tried a new approach, one aimed at lightening the burden borne by children while still giving families access to much-needed food, Kerri said. Children were sent home with enough food for the first week of winter break. Families were invited to restock for the second week by visiting one of three locations in Sioux Falls -- the food bank, a pantry or a church.

When classes resume in January, Feeding South Dakota will return to its weekly routine of filling bags with a weekend’s worth of healthy entrees and snacks for educators to tuck into student backpacks. While the number of children served each week can fluctuate, the schools participating in the program this year are constant: 78 buildings statewide, with close to 50 of them in Sioux Falls, where Kerri works.

Feeding South Dakota contactThe program needs more than $700,000 annually to supplement the nutritional needs of South Dakota school children enrolled in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. FCSAmerica has provided financial support through a Working Here Fund grant. Kerri said Feeding South Dakota is fortunate to have many businesses, organizations and individuals that support the backpack program.

Feeding South Dakota and other backpack programs in the region can’t solve hunger. But, Kerri says, surveys of students and teachers show that the supplemental food does what it is intended to do: ease the hunger pangs to help children focus on learning.

COMMENTS

Load more comments
Your comment has been received and is being reviewed.
avatar

Comments are moderated and reviewed before they are posted on the site. View our terms of use.

YOU MIGHT BE
INTERESTED IN

Oct 19, 2013 | Rural Communities

Nebraska Farmers Fight Hunger

Now there’s an easy way for Nebraska’s grain producers to help alleviate hunger in their local communities.

Jul 3, 2014 | Rural Communities

Rising from the Ashes

A New Year’s Eve fire, destroyed the Food Shelf in Fayette, Iowa – along with 51,000 pounds of food, almost a third of the Food Shelf’s annual stock. Now, like the people it serves, the Food Shelf is in need of help as it works to rebuild.

Sep 4, 2014 | Rural Communities

Food Insecurity Hits Home

Guest blogger Kara Geweke, one of our 2014 summer interns, returns to college with a valuable lesson in food insecurity and how farmers are responding to nutritional needs in their communities.

Ready to Talk?

Contact us if you have questions or need more information. Fill out the form, or connect with your local office using the Office Locator.

FCSAmerica serves farmers, ranchers, agribusinesses and rural residents in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. For inquiries outside this geography, use the Farm Credit Association Locator  to contact your local office.