NewsDecember 10 2014

Local Food Pantry partners with Feeding South Dakota

Posted by Lucy

Lucy Halverson/LCH

The Presho Thrift Store’s food pantry has recently gained a partner that will help the organization keep food on the shelves for people who find themselves in need of assistance to feed their families.

The local Presho food pantry has become partners with Feeding South Dakota and will receive shelf stable items from the large warehouse facility located in Pierre once a month.

"The first delivery will be Wednesday," said Thrift Store board member Teresa Hanson. "We can use the help to keep food available when people need it."

The Presho Food Pantry can place an order for food online and have it delivered by the Feeding South Dakota truck once per month or can pick up items at the warehouse in Pierre.

There is no cost for the food items but partners are charged a Fair Share Handling fee to cover the cost of transporting donated food.

Russ Hofeldt, director of Feeding South Dakota said the maximum amount charged is 18 cents per pound, but it could be less.

"It depends on how far we have to transport donations of food," said Hofeldt.

Feeding South Dakota operates five program areas; Food Pantry, Backpack Program, Mobile Food Pantry, Commodity Distribution Program, and Food Bank Distribution Center out of three locations based in Sioux Falls, Pierre, and Rapid City.

Only the Pierre warehouse owns a Mobile Food Pantry truck that travels to 13 communities in central South Dakota to distribute food.

"The truck was purchased with grant funds that allow us to serve small communities without a local food pantry or access to a grocery store," said Hofeldt.

Due to distances involved, the mobile truck could not handle anymore communities as it visits each town once every six-weeks.

The Mobile Pantry visits the Lyman County towns of Reliance and Lower Brule.

"We target communities that have a need and no access to an established food pantry," said Hofeldt. The truck travels from Little

Eagle northwest of Pierre to Parmelee near the Nebraska border.

Feeding South Dakota also distributes the Commodity Senior Food Program, A USDA program that supplies food to seniors age 60 and over that meet income guidelines.

According to Darci Bultje of the Rural Office of Community Services at Lake Andes, the income limit for one-person household is $15,171, and $20,449 for a two-person household.

"Those numbers will probably change in 2015," said Bultje.

Senior citizens over 60 can apply for the Commodity program through the ROCS office or the local coordinator in Presho Susan Shear.

The commodity Program is offered in Reliance and Prersho and participates receive a box of food once per month. People living in other Lyman County communities can apply for the program but would have to pick up their box at the Reliance or Presho location.

These three locations provide hunger relief assistance to communities and organizations for a group of counties that make up their service territory. Rapid City serves the 12 most western counties, Pierre serves the 24 most central counties, and Sioux Falls covers the 30 most eastern counties in the state In total, Feeding South Dakota services 66 counties, with a total population of over 824,000 people.

Each year, Feeding South Dakota provides meals to more than 190,000 South Dakotans each year.

Along with donations of non-perishable food items, Feeding South Dakota utilizes dollar donations to cover the transportation costs of donated food items they receive from large food manufacturers through the Feeding America network. "Feeding America has created partnerships with virtually all food manufacturers. When there is a mistake in labeling or if there are overruns in production, these manufacturers cannot sell the food, so they donate it to Feeding America. We just have to cover the transportation costs," he explained.

To learn how you can give non-perishable food items or dollars to Feeding South Dakota, visit 

NewsDecember 03 2014

Senior meal program to end in Lyman County due to declining numbers

Posted by Lucy

Lyman County residents participating in the Dakota Senior Meal program were notified last week by the Rural Office of Community Services (ROCS) that due to the declining number of participants and the rising cost of preparing and transporting meals, the program would end December 31, 2014.

"The Kennebec and Presho sites have been a concern of the ROCS Board of Directors for awhile," said Janet Janousek, Director of Dakota Senior Meals.

Betty Jean Mertens, who was instrumental in getting the program started in Lyman County in the fall of 2007 was saddened and disappointed to hear of the end of the program.

"The program is a real benefit to those using it," said Mertens. "It’s just too bad we don’t have more people in the program."

Janousek said the board voted last Monday to discontinue services at Presho, Kennebec and Colome.

"Colome has had the same problems with participation," said Janousek.

A hot shot truck operated by ROCS Transit program, delivers meals prepared and packaged at the Chamberlain Senior Center kitchen to several individuals in the Reliance and Kennebec area and the Presho fire hall, where a group of people gather to eat together Monday thru Friday.

Presho residents waiting for the meal to arrive Monday expressed their concern about losing the meals.

"I enjoy meeting here and eating together," said Marian Rasmussen.

The group named off six people who had been involved with the meals program when it started but have since passed away or moved out of the area.

ROCS pays $55 per day for the truck to deliver meals, that cost includes a salary to the driver, gas, repairs and maintenance.

"It costs $6 to just transport a meal," said Janousek. Currently, the entire price of a meal, including food, preparation, and delivery to

homes and the satellite site is $10.

Participants are asked for a donation of $4 per meal, and the state reimburses ROCS $3.61 per meal.

"We’re losing $2.39 per meal," Janousek explained.

According to Janousek senior meal programs are in trouble nationwide.

She stated that the program used to be funded at a ratio of 36/65; 35 percent local contribution to 65 per federal and state funding.

"It’s really flip-flopped. Now it’s more like 70 percent local to 30 percent federal and state," said Janousek.

The average number of participants ordering meals through the Lyman County Senior Meal program is about eight per day. Janousek estimated the average number of participates would need to double in order to continue the program.

"And, then they’d still need to hold fund raisers often to remain viable," concluded Janousek.

She stated the average age of participants in the Dakota Senior Meal program is 80 – 90 years old.

Mertens stated she is looking into some other options for meals.

"The transportation cost is just too much," said Mertens.

The Rural Office of Community Services, Inc. (ROCS) is a private, non-profit Community Action Agency located in Lake Andes, South Dakota.  ROCS was incorporated in 1981. CSBG funded programs service 20 counties including Aurora, Bon Homme, Brule, Buffalo, Charles Mix, Clay, Davison, Douglas, Gregory, Hanson, Hutchison, Jerauld, Jones, Lyman, Mellette, Sanborn, Todd, Tripp, Union and Yankton.

NewsNovember 26 2014

Posted by Lucy

Moving Day

Last Tuesday, November 18, members of the Eastern Star, l-r; Gloria Perry, Donna Cole, and Sally Garnos, started moving items from their old meeting place into the newly constructed building on Main Street, Presho.  The building, which will be home to the Eastern Star and Masons, was built with funds donated by the late Dakota Mullen Sturgis.  The building features a community room available for rent to the public.  Several businesses will set up a vendor booth in the building Thursday, December 4 for Presho’s Homespun Christmas celebration.  The Eastern Star will hold an open house and announce the name of the building at a later date.

NewsNovember 26 2014

Former students rebut CNN’s accusations against St. Joseph’s Indian School

Posted by Lucy

Former students rebut CNN’s accusations against St. Joseph’s Indian School

Hannah Baker/Chamberlain SUN

Avis Dion had mixed feelings when she watched the CNN report about St. Joseph’s Indian School on November 17.

“I was angry. I was hurt,” said Dion, who sits on the St. Joseph’s Parent Advisory Council and has had five foster children, three biological children and two grandchildren who have or still currently attend St. Joseph’s. “I didn’t feel like they told the true story at all.”

The CNN show Anderson Cooper 360 reported about St. Joseph’s Indian School during its broadcast on November 17. In the report, CNN accused St. Joseph’s of using false sob stories to trick donors into giving money to the school as part of its fundraising campaign.

Although CNN accused the stories as being false, former St. Joseph student Rozlyn Quilt, class of 2009, said the stories are true. Quilt said she herself came to St. Joseph’s after leaving behind a place she would not describe as positive.

“As sad as it may sound, those stories are very real,” said Quilt.

The stories in question are a part of a fundraising mailer the school sends out seasonally to current and potential donors. The mailer includes information about the school, a novelty dream catcher and a letter telling a story from a student’s point of view. The mailer example CNN used in its report included a letter from a student named Josh Little Bear who explains how St. Joseph’s has helped him escape a life that included an alcoholic father and a drug-abusing mother. There is a disclaimer on the letter that states the name of the student has been changed to protect the privacy of the student.

It was confirmed by the president of St. Joseph’s Indian School, Mike Tyrell, that Josh Little Bear is not a real person. However, despite what CNN reported, he said the facts in the letter are true. In an interview with the Chamberlain SUN on November 19, Tyrell said Native American students from all types of home backgrounds come to the school, some of which included alcoholic and drug addicted parents. Those stories are then used as a basis of the letters in the fundraising mailers.

“The information was taken and worked into a new letter, but the most specific spots of that letter are from one student,” said Tyrell. “Other students have also fallen prey to some of that. All of our kids come with different needs.”

Tyrell said the school regularly looks at its fundraising tools and evaluates what should and shouldn't be included in future campaigns. He said the school will most likely stop using the letters in future mailings, but that has yet to be officially decided.

According to Tyrell, CNN spent less than 24 hours in South Dakota – time he says was insufficient to get a clear picture of St. Joseph’s and the work that is done for Native American children.

Dion agreed, saying CNN should have reached out to more educated sources for input about St. Joseph’s who have direct ties to the school.

“They didn’t talk to parents. They didn’t talk to students. They came in from another state into our little world with no understanding about what St. Joe’s is and then they left,” said Dion.

St. Joseph’s is operated by the Priests of Sacred Heart, a Catholic organization. The campus includes classrooms for grades K-8, a chapel, dining hall, health center, the Atka Lakota Museum and Cultural Center, a playground, recreation center, administration offices, and on-campus housing. Teachers in the classroom not only teach the typical school subjects, but Native American culture, as well.

Quilt said she learned traditional beading and dances at St. Joseph’s – two things she is happy to pass on to her own daughter.

“Keeping traditions alive is very important and I wouldn’t have known how to do those types of things without St. Joe’s,” said Quilt.

Providing this type of facility amounts to a high dollar. The school’s 2014 Financial Report states it spent around $54.5 million. Total revenue during the same year was $62.2 million, leaving a surplus of $7.76 million. CNN reported St. Joseph’s has around $122 million “cash on hand”; however, that number is a total worth of St. Joseph’s – including the value of campus buildings, facilities, etc.

Money spent goes to managing the campus, administration fees and program costs, among other things, added together to provides its 200-some Native American students with not only an education and a place to live, but basic essentials such as clothing, toiletries, school supplies, a bed to sleep in and food to eat.

Paul Davis, another former alumnus of St. Joseph’s, said the support the school offers doesn’t stop upon graduation. He said the school has helped him out several times since he graduated.

“For a lot of programs, once you leave it you’re done and they’re done with you,” said Davis. “St. Joe’s stays with you lifelong.”

Davis said the report from CNN was an example of a “witch hunt”.

“The school will always be positive in my mind,” said David. “I’m proud I went to school there.”

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