New Location, New Challenges For Users Of Food Pantry

Feeding South Dakota Trying To Find Solution For No Nearby Bus Stop

Feeding South Dakota is on the move again. The organization started moving into a new facility this week on the Northwest side of town. While the new location has its advantages, it also presents one very big challenge.

Every 90 days, Michael Ebanks makes a trip to the food pantry to get groceries. Usually he takes Sioux Area Metro from his apartment near 49th Street and Louise Avenue to the nearest bus stop or rides his bike. This time though he had to find a ride.

“I just couldn’t imagine how things would go this winter when people need the food pantry,” said Michael Ebanks of Sioux Falls.

That’s because the food pantry moved to North Westport Avenue… behind J&L Harley Davidson. The closest bus stop is on route 19 by the University Center, which is more than a mile away.

“For a person who is riding a bike, like myself, a mile can be kind of a stretch,” said Ebanks.

On west 60th Street North, with no sidewalks, it could be a dangerous one too.

Ebanks said, “You would have to cross over the bridge and if you’re not careful you could get hit.”

Feeding South Dakota knew this would be an issue when they chose to build at that location.

“On average probably 80 to 100 people come through our pantry each and every day, Monday through Friday,” said Feeding South Dakota Executive Director Matt Gassen.

However, most of what they do is run out of their warehouse. From there, they redistribute food to around 30 counties in eastern South Dakota. They needed a large space close to the interstate.

“We needed to have a location that was accessible, readily accessible for truck traffic, semi traffic to be able to get in and get out and load and unload,” said Gassen.

So now instead of making people come to the pantry, they may have to bring their services to them. They’re looking at possible locations for mobile distributions.

“Potentially we would try to do those mobile distributions right off the truck when the weather is nice,” said Gassen.

In the winter, they would need partners so the distributions could take place inside.

Feeding South Dakota says a few weeks ago they did meet with a planning committee regarding a bus route. They say it doesn’t look like anything is planned at least for a couple of years.