Hunger and Homelessness: “There’s a Level of Invisibility”

MINNEHAHA COUNTY, S.D. – Every day, hundreds seek out food at area food banks and many look for a place to sleep at night in a shelter or hospitality house.

While hunger and homelessness are prevalent in the community, officials say there is still a “level of invisibility” surrounding the issue.

Now, county agencies are bringing those issues to the forefront, and dedicating the entire month of November as “Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Month” in hopes to find solutions.

“It happens in this community. Our folks try. We call them working poor, but I also call them very invisible. We don’t know because they’re doing all the things we expect them to do. But they’re struggling in silence,” said Stacey Tieszen, Coordinator of the Minnehaha County Homeless Advisory Board.

The Feeding South Dakota food pantry has seen a 15 percent increase in the number being served in the past year.

The Bishop Dudley house has had nearly 1,400 new guests this year.

There are about 70 guests a night at the Union Gospel Mission.

“The numbers, while not New York size scary, they’re very real and very scary for our community for the fact that we can do better,” said Tieszen. “And that would be the call to action that I leave you with today.”

A number of events are taking place in November to encourage community members to recognize the continued need for services for the homeless and hungry in Sioux Falls and to support those organizations working to meet these needs.

• Tuesday, November 7: Mayor Huether will read a proclamation for National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Month at the 7 p.m. City Council meeting, 235 West Tenth Street.
• Saturday, November 11: Veteran’s Day (In the Sioux Falls area in 2017, 338 veterans were served in the homeless outreach and prevention programs with the Veterans Administration.)
• Wednesday, November 15: Annual Homeless Memorial Celebration at 6 p.m. in the main concourse of the Siouxland Health and Human Services Building, 521 North Main Avenue.
• Thursday, November 16: Landlord Engagement Panel begins at 11:45 a.m. in Classroom 1 at Siouxland Health and Human Services Building, 521 North Main Avenue.
• Saturday, November 18: Walk a Mile Event registration begins at 9:30 a.m. on Sixth Street by the Big Sioux River.
• Tuesday, November 28: Community members are encouraged to use Sioux Area Metro or a bike as their primary mode of transportation.

Additional information and event dates can be found here: http://www.minnehahacounty.org/hab/haham/haham.php