Feeding South Dakota ready to help thousands affected by continued government shutdown

In the midst of the partial government shutdown, millions of Americans are bracing themselves to lose their SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits and are at risk of increased food insecurity.

South Dakotans are not exempt from the impending crisis. According to the South Dakota Department of Social Services (DSS), nearly 90,000 South Dakotans received SNAP benefits in November 2018, and nearly half of those recipients were children under the age of 18.

Feeding South Dakota has plans in place to procure more food, more volunteers and more financial resources to carry food-insecure South Dakotans through this crisis. The organization anticipates it will start to see a significant increase in food demand on Feb. 5.

As the only statewide hunger-relief non-profit, providing food assistance to the nearly 100,000 South Dakotans who are food insecure, Feeding South Dakota is asking its supporters to help meet the gap.

“We were pleased to learn this week that USDA was able to find a way to fully fund SNAP benefits for February, and benefits will be issued on January 20,” said Matt Gassen, Feeding South Dakota Chief Executive Officer. “But we’re concerned this process will lead to confusion and disruption in the lives of South Dakotans who rely on this program, and we need the help of our supporters to ensure people in their communities who need food assistance can continue to get the help they need.”

While Feeding South Dakota prepares to further assist those who may lose their SNAP benefits at the end of February, the organization also looks to help federal employees who are currently furloughed or being asked to work without pay. Feeding South Dakota is concerned about the increased need for assistance by the organization’s hundreds of agency partners such as small food pantries across the state that help feed its most vulnerable, especially in rural areas, Gassen said.

In November 2018, DSS reported there were $10.3 million in SNAP benefits spent in South Dakota, which equates to an average household benefit of $267.78. Feeding South Dakota estimates it will take over 5 million pounds of food per month to make up for that loss in SNAP food benefits.

Feeding South Dakota asks its supporters now to help through this time of potential crisis. To help by volunteering, donating food and donating funds, visit feedingsouthdakota.org and click on “How to Help” or send an email to info@feedingsouthdakota.org.