Feeding South Dakota closes food pantries in response to COVID-19

(KOTA TV/Feeding South Dakota)

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN/KOTA TV) - Feeding South Dakota's food pantries in Rapid City and Sioux Falls are now closed until further notice.

"This decision was most certainly not an easy decision to make but it has been determined to be in the best interest of everyone to ensure we are keeping our staff, volunteers and guests as safe as possible," said Matt Gassen, CEO of Feeding South Dakota.

"Closing the food pantries will allow us to more efficiently and effectively use our staff resources to continue to pack emergency boxes and bags of food to distribute to not only our residents in Rapid City and Sioux Falls, but to focus on the needs of all 66 counties of our state," Gassen added.

Closing the food pantries does not mean individuals and families will lose access to food. Feeding South Dakota will be distributing emergency food boxes, drive-thru style, in the parking lots of the following locations during the week beginning March 23.

People are asked to remain in their vehicles; staff and volunteers will be loading the food, one box per household, maximum two boxes per vehicle. Once the first family has been distributed, the distribution dates, times and locations will be evaluated after the first week to determine distributions plans for the following week.

Rapid City locations with hours:

- Rapid Valley United Methodist Church: 5103 Longview Dr. on Wednesday, March 25 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

- Star Village: (behind the Feeding South Dakota office) on Wednesday, March 25 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

- Mother Butler: 231 Knollwood Dr. on Friday, March 27 from 2 p.m.to 4 p.m.

- Career Learning Center: 730 E. Watertown St. on Friday, March 27 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

In addition, Feeding South Dakota's BackPack Program will discontinue the distribution of backpacks util further notice. No backpacks will be delivered to schools nor will they be available for pick-up by neighboring school districts.

Feeding South Dakota's Mobile Food Pantry Program and Food Bank Program will continue with the exception that the food in the Mobile Food Pantry Program will be in pre-packed boxes and bags and will be distributed drive-thru style.

A list of distributions by county can be found online at feedingsouthdakota.org/mobile.

Feeding South Dakota is increasing precautionary measures to ensure the safety of staff, volunteers, and our neighbors in need. The distributions centers are certified with AIB International, a pioneer and leader in food safety auditing and education. Feeding South Dakota are asking everyone to NOT enter our facilities if they’re not feeling well, especially if a fever or cough is present. They have distributed and posted education materials from the CDC, providing facts about COVID-19 along with simple tips to stay healthy.

The need for volunteers is more critical now than ever before. With limited human capital, the work relies on the availability of volunteers. We are doing our best to ensure we implement safe social distance measures. Healthy community members in the Pierre, Rapid City and Sioux Falls areas are encouraged to register to volunteer at feedingsouthdakota.org/volunteer.

Read the original version of this article at www.kotatv.com.