Food pantry opening well attended
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
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The Kingsbury County Food Pantry recently moved from its former location in the basement of the American Lutheran Church to its new home at 115 Calumet Ave. S.W. in De Smet. The building most recently housed the Vintage Hair Parlour. Patti and Jay Slater bought the building last year and are donating use of the space free of charge.
The new location is handicap accessible and is much larger. Volunteer Robyn Flickinger said many of their patrons are elderly or disabled and needed a more accessible place.
“It was just getting too big for the old facility,” said the Rev. Randy Koeller, pastor of the American Lutheran Church.
The recent passage of the farm bill includes some $8 billion in cuts to the federal food-stamp program. This could conceivably have an impact on the amount of people that may need help from the local food pantry or the amount of help needed.
“We can only anticipate that the need will get worse,” Koeller said. “Food needs parallel other needs that may be even greater. Its hard to know until you actually get people through the door.”
The De Smet Ministerial Association, which includes clergy from several local churches, sponsors the food pantry. It is staffed by volunteers and relies heavily on donations. Much of the food is obtained in bulk through Feeding South Dakota, a hunger relief organization that works in partnership with Feeding America.
Another project the food pantry oversees is the Feeding South Dakota BackPack Program, which discreetly sends food home from school on Fridays with children who otherwise might not get enough to eat over the weekend.
The food pantry now has ample shelf room and a storage area. A refrigerator and freezer have been donated, which allows the pantry to receive and distribute some frozen and perishables, such as meat and produce.
Koeller said the existing structure still needs some updating. Renovations will include an office for Flickinger to meet with Senior Health Information and Insurance Education (SHIINE) clients and adding an office for the ministerial association.
The food pantry is open Tuesdays from 1-4 p.m. Donations can still be delivered to local churches when the food pantry is closed.
The De Smet News