Fighting Food Insecurity
Volunteers and organizations work hard to combat hunger and poverty in Brown County.

Fighting Food Insecurity

(From left) Sara Gab and Mikella Ambriella pack meals for the Boys and Girls Club Summer Food Service Program.

“I’m hungry!” … “There’s nothing to eat!” … as a container from last night’s supper blocks the view of the previous night’s take out. While this chorus rings through many homes this summer, the reality is that food insecurity is a major concern for many households in this region. 

This begins our four-part series from United Way focusing on the programs and resources that address major obstacles community members face every day. The first issue is food insecurity.

Population estimates from the US Census Bureau states that our current Brown County population is 38,839, and, of that population, 9.4 percent (3,650) of our county residents live in poverty. According to South Dakota KIDS COUNT, in 2017, 37,907 South Dakotans from age 0 to 18 lived in poverty. At the same time, 1,038 children 0 to 18 lived in poverty in Brown County. While these are only a few of the statistics surrounding food and financial insecurity, it starts to paint a picture of those who live around us, and perhaps, even ourselves. 

We are fortunate to have several critical groups working hard to tackle our region’s hunger and poverty issue. The following is not an exhaustive list of hunger or food programs. Rather, it includes programs within the region that have touchpoints with United Way. 

Salvation Army

The mobile sack lunch program started in 2016 with a United Way Foundation Grant. The Salvation Army provides sack lunches to children all summer long at various drop-off points around the community. The program typically provides 150 to 175 sack lunches every day between Monday and Friday. That equals over 7,000 sack lunches each year.

Feeding SD partners with the Salvation Army to provide Senior Meal Boxes. The Salvation Army also provides a hot lunch every day in their center at 100 Sixth Ave. SW.

(From left) Virginia Kopecky and Caitlynn Barse help with the Boys and Girls Club Summer Food Service Program.

Boys and Girls Club

Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) provides a lunch and afternoon snack, averaging 147 snacks and 128 meals per day. 

Children and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) provides an after-school snack and supper meal. In the 2020-21 school year, the Boys and Girls Club averaged 205 snacks and 83 meals per day.

Bethlehem Lutheran

Wednesday night meal service is open to the public from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM free of charge or with a goodwill offering. On average, over 400 people are served each Wednesday. During the pandemic, meals were provided in paper sacks with a grab–and–go style. 

Feeding SD

Freedom Church—Mobile Food Pantries travel across South Dakota distributing food to individuals and families in need. These distributions supplement the work of agency partner pantries, shelters, and meal sites operating in fixed locations. Typically, each family receives approximately 50 to 70 pounds of fresh and frozen produce, dairy, meat, breads, and other non-perishable food items. The type of food distributed varies depending on what is available at the current time. The Aberdeen distribution will be located at Freedom Church on July 27, August 24, and September 21 from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM.

The Journey Home

The Journey Home Food Box program serves all families and individuals experiencing a food crisis. They offer a food box to each household once a month, and it includes canned vegetables, fruits, cereal, rice, pasta, and soups. Each household is allowed a maximum of three food boxes. Once they receive their third food box, Journey requires that they meet with our United Way team to talk about their situation and to see if we can offer them any of our other services. //