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Feeding South Dakota mulls expansion of Pierre food bank

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news Mitchell, 57301
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

PIERRE (AP) — Feeding South Dakota may upgrade its current operations in Pierre to increase the amount of food it can distribute to hungry people.

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Executive Director Matt Gassen said the Pierre location, founded in 2010, has exceeded its expected distribution because of an unanticipated increase in demand. The food bank had its distributions increase 50 percent last year, he said.

"We went from distributing virtually no food in Pierre to 1.5 million pounds of food out of that facility," Gassen told the Capital Journal.

Part of that increase was the introduction of a mobile food pantry, which delivers food to 13 communities. The program provided more than 371,000 meals to needy families last year, he said.

Russ Hofeldt, the central operations manager for Feeding South Dakota, said there are still unmet needs in the central region of the state. If the organization is to accomplish its goal of eliminating hunger, it has to have the capacity to fill the demand, he said.

Gassen said the organization is still considering options about how to best upgrade its operations in Pierre. Its options include either expanding the current building or finding a new location.

The upgrade is part of a greater $6 million campaign by Feeding South Dakota to improve its facilities.

A $2 million upgrade in Rapid City last year allowed the food bank to move from an old 1950s supermarket to a 30,000-square-foot warehouse. There also are plans to consolidate a food pantry and food bank in Sioux Falls into one building.

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