SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization projects more children will go hungry in South Dakota this year and won't know where their next meal is coming from.
Feeding America says the child food in security rate for 2021 in South Dakota will be 16.3%, up from 15.3% in 2019. The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as reduced food intake, disruptive eating and decreased quality and variety in diets.
The USDA recently reported a national trend of increasing food insecurity, which rose to 14.8% in 2020, the Argus Leader reported.
“I think it is really concerning,” said Lisa Davis, Senior Vice President of No Kid Hungry campaign, a national initiative to end child hunger. “Children who face hunger generally have worse health impacts on their physical and brain development… They don’t do well in school, they graduate at lower rates, and those consequences for kids literally last a lifetime.”
Before the coronavirus pandemic, food insecurity was at its lowest rate since USDA started tracking it in the late 90s. The nation was coming off a decade-long recovery period from the 2008 recession, which quickly changed after COVID-19 hit, Davis said.
South Dakotans shouldn’t forget about the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on food access to households with young children, households of children headed by single women, and households of color, specifically Black and Hispanic, Davis said.
“We’re absolutely seeing the reality of what food insecurity means and it’s on a day-to-day basis,” said Michelle Erpenbach, president of Sioux Falls Thrive, a local anti-hunger community non-profit dedicated to providing services to children.