One in Five Americans struggle to purchase enough food

According to an surveys conducted by Gallup and the Pew Research Center found that in August 1 in 5 Americans had difficulty purchasing enough food for themselves.  See the MSN article here


Hunger in South Dakota

The following is a paper created by a group called South Dakota Partners Against Hunger.  The paper presents data about the groups in South Dakota who are most affected by hunger and about food deserts in the state.  The United States Department of Agriculture classifies food deserts as area without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food.  The paper has some very good end notes where you can find further information.

As always, if you want to take part in the local food projects in Custer, South Dakota look at the tabs on the top of this page.

Here is the article:

Hunger in South Dakota

Groups Most Affected by Hunger

The amount of SNAP benefits a household receives depends upon its income, size, and allowable expenses. The number of persons receiving SNAP benefits in the United States has steadily increased from 2000 to 2009. In March 2012 over 104,000 South Dakotans were receiving SNAP benefits and the average monthly benefit per household was about $305. Almost half of the total persons receiving SNAP benefits were children aged 18 years and younger.

SNAP benefits play a significant role in the reduction of poverty and can improve the welfare of low-income families. According to an analysis of the Current Population Survey data, SNAP benefits resulted in a decrease in the prevalence of poverty by an average of 4.4 percent. In addition, the depth and severity of poverty decreased by an average of 10.3 and 13.2 percent, respectively. The positive effect of SNAP benefits from 2000-2009 was most apparent on the prevalence of child poverty, reducing the depth by an average of 15.5 percent and the severity by an average of 21.3 percent. SNAP benefits were effective in reducing the depth and severity of poverty in both metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas, with a somewhat greater reduction among non-metropolitan areas.

Hunger is a very serious issue in the state of South Dakota where currently, 1 in 8 people are living below the poverty level. Throughout the state, hunger affects individuals both young and old as well as entire families. Those most affected by hunger include young children, the elderly and low-income families.


Children account for 20% of the total population living below the poverty level in South Dakota. This is especially concerning because children who are undernourished are 2-4 times more likely to suffer from weight loss, irritability, and fatigue. As a result, these children may have difficulty paying attention in school and have slower cognitive development. A survey of South Dakota families in 2004 revealed that 20% of parents had children who skipped meals due to lack of money.

Food assistance programs such as the National School Lunch Program, SNAP, and the Backpack Program aim to meet the dietary needs of South Dakota youth. Without these programs, the amount of hungry children in South Dakota would increase.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps) provides financial assistance to low-income South Dakotans.

Almost half of the individuals served by food pantries in South Dakota are infants and children.


South Dakota’s elderly population accounts for 10% of the state’s population who receive food assistance from various programs. Often too proud to admit their need for help, elderly individuals must regularly choose between buying food, paying for utilities, and purchasing prescription medications.

Currently, there are 21 nonprofit Senior Meals providers in South Dakota. Nutrition programs for seniors are sponsored by nonprofit organizations, a local government agency, or tribal agency. Senior Meals offer meals Monday through Friday that are hot, nutritious, and meet at least 1/3 of an older person’s dietary needs. The meals offer a variety of food and are affordable. Elderly individuals participating in the Senior Meals program have the option to attend group dining or have their meals

delivered if they are homebound. The Senior Meals program is available to those who are aged 60 or older and their spouses or people with disabilities living in a congregate housing facility designed primarily for the elderly where a congregate meal site exists. There are 218 congregate meal sites in 66 of the 67 counties in South Dakota.


South Dakota families also struggle to provide enough food for them to meet their nutritional needs. In 2004, 19% of households indicated that over that year they “sometimes did not have enough to eat,” and 4% said, “often they did not have enough to eat”. Parents also reported cutting their family’s meal sizes in half in order to have enough for everyone to eat. The most frequently reported reason for not having enough to eat was due to the lack of money.

Over 2,700 food boxes are supplied to seniors on a monthly basis.

Feeding South Dakota provides

food for an estimated

100,000 people each year

Feeding South Dakota

Feeding South Dakota is the state’s largest charitable hunger relief organization whose mission is to eliminate hunger in South Dakota with distribution centers in Sioux Falls, Pierre, and Rapid City. In 2011, Feeding South Dakota secured and distributed 12.2 million pounds of quality nutritious donated and purchased food, along with other surplus items through a network of over 450 charitable organizations across the state. These organizations then provide this food to individuals who are “food insecure” through on-site feeding programs, emergency food pantries, after school programs and others. With the tough economic times and also the rising cost of transportation, the fight to end hunger in South Dakota is becoming ever more challenging.

Food Deserts in South Dakota

South Dakota

Partners Against Hunger

Bishop David B. Zellmer

President, Partners Against Hunger

Phone: 605-274-4020


Strengthening and Uniting Communities that All May be Fed

The USDA classifies food deserts as rural or urban areas without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food. Food deserts are located all across the United States (U.S.), with the most concentrated regions being around the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains. South Dakota, along with Montana and North Dakota, has one of the highest percentages of land covered by food deserts.

In South Dakota, food deserts cover almost half of the state’s 66 counties. As a result, there is a large proportion of the state that lacks access to healthy and affordable food. In South Dakota, food deserts are located in rural communities away from large cities. State census data from 1990 to 2005 showed a decline in population in these food desert areas resulting from young adults (18-29) moving to larger South Dakota cities. Those living in South Dakota food deserts tend to have lower than average levels of education, lower household income, and higher poverty rates than non-food desert areas in this state.

Data from 2004 indicated that 1 in 3 South Dakota households lacked access to transportation to get them to a grocery store that offered fresh and affordable food. Without transportation, these individuals are unable to buy large quantities of groceries to provide for them and their families for a longer period of time. Storage of frozen foods is often an issue for these individuals since 1 in 4 doesn’t have a freezer in their household.

Figure 1. South Dakota Food Deserts Displayed by Census Tracts


Brooks T, Trushenski S, McCurry M, Hess D. South Dakota’s Food Deserts. Rural Life Census Data Center. 2008;1:1-3

Hunger in South Dakota. Feeding South Dakota. 2012.

Children in South Dakota. Children’s Defense Fund. Janurary 2012. f

Alleviating Poverty in the United States: The Critical Role of SNAP Benefits. 2012.

Senior Meals. South Dakota Department of Social Services.

United States Department of Agriculture. Definition Food Deserts. Food Desert Locator. Published 2011. Accessed April 15, 2012.

Welcome to the Custer Round Table

Welcome to the website of the Custer Round Table.

The Custer Round Table is an informal group of people in Custer, South Dakota who are interested in helping build community through food.  Everyone needs to eat, right?  Our country produces enough food to feed everyone, so why not spend a little extra time and effort making sure everyone has enough to eat.  And while we’re at it, we might as well make some new friends in the process.

The Custer Round Table is sponsored by the Custer Ministerial Alliance which is a group of local congregations that like to work together on projects for the good of the entire community.

The Custer Round Table is currently focusing on three food related projects (note the tabs at the top of the page for details about each project).  The first is the Custer Meet and Eat, which is a monthly community meal hosted by various groups in the community.  Think of it as a monthly block party for the entire community.  The second is home grocery delivery where volunteers working with Lynn’s Dakotamart and Custer County Market provide grocery delivery to people who have difficulty getting out of their homes.  The third is the Custer Senior Meal program which includes Meals on Wheels and a communal noon meal served to senior citizens five days per week.

The Custer Roundtable takes it name from the fact that a person can almost always fit one more chair around a round table.  We believe that communities have deep and varied resources for providing access to food and community fellowship.  The number one resource is people.  The Roundtable task force meets about ten times per year to coordinate the projects.  If you are interested in finding out more information or pulling up your chair to the table, drop us a note on the homepage of this weblog.