The Banquet West sees 18% increase in kids this past year

Published: Nov. 1, 2017 at 9:35 PM CDT
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438 students in the Sioux Falls School District are homeless and 50% are receiving free or reduced meals. Places like The Banquet are seeing similar increases.

In the past year, The Banquet West has seen an 18% increase in children – something the director attributes to more access for families seeing meals.

“They feel comfortable bringing their kids here. We like to have activities for the kids to do -- coloring tables or craft projects,” said volunteer Rebecca Wanner.

The Banquet West serves the northwest Sioux Falls population. In the past few months, there’s been an uptick in children.

“Being able to be out here at the fairgrounds Tuesday and Wednesday evenings has made it easier for them to get themselves and their children here to eat a meal. That was one of the main reasons that Banquet West started in 2014 was because we were being made aware that there were people that lived in northwest Sioux Falls that did not have the transportation to get to the main location downtown,” said Tamera Jerke-Liesinger, executive director of The Banquet.

“I've been volunteering at The Banquet for almost three years now,” said Wanner.

Wanner says she’s seen more families at The Banquet recently.

“For sure you never want to see all these kids that maybe this is their only meal they’re getting in a day, especially in the summer when school is out, but it's just really nice to know that we give off a great vibe that families really like,” said Wanner.

Both Wanner and Jerke-Liesinger say it is important for people to realize that hunger in our community is very real and that there are people who are struggling in Sioux Falls. And as long as there are hungry people, especially kids, The Banquet will continue to serve.