A new survey shows that more than 100,000 people in South Dakota don't always know where their next meal will come from.
The research done by Feeding America's "Map the Meal Gap" shows that more than 12% of the population in the state struggle with hunger. Of the more than 100,000 people looking for their next meal, more than 36,000 are children. The study shows that 60% of children at risk of hunger in South Dakota are eligible for nutrition programs like free or reduced–price school lunch or breakfast, but that leaves 40%of those under 18 who are at risk for hunger and don't know where to get their next meal.
A doctor involved in the study says undernourished children leads to behavioral problems or perhaps physical and developmental impairments. Unfortunately, Lauren Forsche, Feeding South Dakota's development associate, says the number of hungry people has increased by more than one thousand since the last study. "As our state population grows, we also need to increase the availability of food. And so, maybe by having a lack of that availability, that's why we would see an increase in the number of individuals that are still food insecure," said Forsche.
The study also shows that the annual food budget in South Dakota is short more than $43,000,000 to put enough food on the table for people who are food insecure.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that hunger is a nationwide issue, as more than 50,000,000 people across America are not sure what they will eat next.
Forsche says Feeding South Dakota says it appreciates product donations, but monetary donations are helpful because Feeding South Dakota can buy food in bulk, without having to pay a transportation fee to get the goods.
James Horton as a child says his family struggled with food when he was a child. So Horton turned to The Club for Boys. "Safe place to be, a lot of encouragement," said Horton. "Carried me on through my younger years."
The Club for Boys serves 175 boys at breakfast and 350 boys at lunch as part of their free food program. And for some, that's all they get. "They wouldn't eat if it weren't for the club, it's just that plain simple," said Dave Oyler, the special programs director at The Club for Boys.
Feeding South Dakota is a large reason why the club for boys is able to feed as many as it does. "If we had to pay retail price for every food we have at the club we wouldn't be able to feed as many boys," said Oyler.
The Club for Boys won't turn a boy away who is hungry just because he isn't a member. Horton encourages families to find a place with food if they need it. "Get to know the places to go to get a meal it's something that will help out," said Horton.