Today, it can be assumed over 100 million people will tune in for the 2017 Super Bowl. Many will attend a large gathering complete with ample supplies of chili, beer, chips and dip.
But as you see the packed stadium and consume the food on your lap, consider this: 730 of the NRG Houston Stadiums could be filled with food Americans throw away every year! Meanwhile, about 50 million Americans are food insecure, not sure where their next meal will come from. Food disparities disproportionately affect children, seniors, African American, Latinos and rural citizens and should be in your thoughts and prayers during the game.
Meet those who already know this and serve tirelessly for Feeding America. Pictured above, Kerri DeGraff, Development Director; Allison Struck, BackPack Program Coordinator; and Matt Gassen, CEO. Feeding South Dakota is a hunger relief organization, fighting to eliminate hunger in this state with your help.
In 2016, Feeding South Dakota distributed 13.5 million pounds of food in the fight against hunger. Their partnership with Feeding America provided access to millions of pounds of food product, donated by American corporations. Every week, Feeding South Dakota assists in providing temporary food assistance to approximately 21,000 hungry individuals and families in our state and our BackPack Program gives food every weekend to over 5,500 kids who otherwise might go hungry.
I sat down with them to hear surprising ways that everyday consumers, gardeners and hunters can help with this overwhelming food disparity crisis.
Do You Eat Food?
Obviously, we are ALL consumers of food and need fresh produce to ensure a healthy life! If you are fortunate enough to be able to purchase food for your own family, consider donating the following (they will not go to waste):
- Peanut Butter & Jelly
- Boxed Meals (i.e. Hamburger Helper, Tuna Helper)
- Pasta and Rice
- Canned fruits
- Canned vegetables
- Canned meats and canned pasta
Furthermore, support local farmers and retailers who sell “less than perfect” produce. More than 25% of all food grown is discarded due to imperfections. Very high standards in aesthetics have resulted in large food waste prior to our produce even being shipped to the US.
HyVee and other local retailers now sell “ugly” or “misfit” produce- that which doesn’t meet USDA standards for perfection, but certainly is healthy, sustainable and of otherwise high quality. Watch and read the following to learn more:
What defines you? Is it what you’re made of? You can be everything that all the other fruits and vegetables can be! Because there’s nothing wrong in being UGLY!
-An Indignant Inglorious Carrot
An ugly carrot receives a motivational speech to boost his self-esteem.
A message of hope for all inglorious fruits and vegetables of the world.
Gassen, is excited about this trend of awareness and increased consumption of “ugly” produce here in the US. Rather than concerned HyVee and other retailers will divert these resources away from the food bank and toward retail sales, he sees a trend toward having more “ugly” produce available to his clients.
Are You A Gardener?
Growers of all backgrounds know the term “bumper crop”. Come spring, summer or fall, we likely will have more of a vegetable or fruit than you could consume or preserve on your own. When in this circumstance, think about Feeding America. The new Feeding South Dakota Sioux Falls site has plenty of room to refrigerate or freeze produce which men, women and children of our state can benefit.
73% of the individuals served by Feeding South Dakota purchase less expensive but less healthy foods as a way to stretch their grocery budget. For food insecure families, a bag of apples is considered a luxury that they have to give up when grocery shopping. Fresh produce is one of the most demanded, but least donated items in our Food Pantry programs. Donate extra vegetables from your garden, apples and pears from fruit trees, or pick up a few extra bags of carrots on a grocery trip!
Are You A Sportsman?
Programs like Sportsman Against Hunger is one of the primary ways Feeding South Dakota provides protein for needy families. Hunters of antelope, deer, duck, elk and goose routinely take advantage of the program when a successful hunt provides more meat than the hunter’s family needs!
According to Gassen, Feeding South Dakota will donate $60 toward processing the animal. 32 processors in the state have agreed to decrease their regular fees to make donations free for the sportsman.
In the fall, winter, and spring 2015-2016, over 31,500 pounds of game meat were provided to families in need through Sportsmen Against Hunger and local food relief partners. Through these partnerships, over 3.3 million meals of meat were provided to people in need across South Dakota!
During a tour of their new facility, I saw first hand how some of our most vulnerable South Dakotans are served by Feeding South Dakota.
Are You a Senior?
One of five South Dakotans over the age of 65 are food insecure. The USDA donated care boxes to supplement elder citizens about ten days with soft foods typically enjoyed by this population. Boxes and containers are easy to open and reseal.
Are You a Child?
At quick glance, we wonder why food insecure families would want or need cupcakes, candy or cakes. Consider how often you purchase or make these goodies for holidays, Christmas gatherings and birthday parties. Gassen and DeGraff shared two accounts of young children they met in the food line, excited to pick out their very own birthday treats.
Are You a Patriot?
Regardless if you’re cheering for New England or Atlanta today, I hope you consider yourself sympathetic to food disparities in America. Your donations of money, food, and time allow Feeding South Dakota to positively impact thousands of people every year.
Real people: Real men, real women and real children need your help and their lives change when they receive it.
-Feeding South Dakota