Mitchell Food Pantry prepping Easter dinner box giveaway for those in need

Event scheduled for Wednesday, April 5

Volunteers with the Mitchell Food Pantry unload the first delivery of food for the organization on Thursday afternoon at the pantry's new location on West First Avenue in Mitchell. (Caitlynn Peetz/Republic)
Volunteers with the Mitchell Food Pantry unload food for the organization.
(Mitchell Republic File Photo)

MITCHELL — The Mitchell Food Pantry will be doling out a holiday helping hand when it hosts an Easter dinner giveaway this week.

The local organization is planning to distribute 150 ham dinners to people in need Wednesday, April 5 from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. The drive-through operation will take place in the city parking lot between TMA and Graham Tire. There will be a limit of two dinners per vehicle.

It’s the latest effort by the Mitchell Food Pantry to make an impact in the ongoing need to supply needy households with affordable, nutritious meals at a time when inflation is raising the price of everyday items, including groceries, household items and rent.

“We haven’t always done (an Easter holiday giveaway),” Karen Pooley, one of the directors of the Mitchell Food Pantry, told the Mitchell Republic. “One of the reasons it struck us was that last year somebody had gone to County Fair and bought ham, mashed potatoes and green beans and had them delivered to the pantry. This was the day before Easter. We thought that this might be a sign that we need to do something.”

The event is an offshoot of the organization’s annual Thanksgiving meal giveaway, which has remained popular since its inception and draws people from around the city and beyond. Pooley said that the Easter distribution last year proved popular as well, and the organization is planning to add Easter to its regular rotation of distributions.


With area churches and other charitable organizations focusing on similar initiatives on Christmas, Pooley said the Mitchell Food Pantry has elected to focus on such giveaways for the Thanksgiving and now Easter holidays.

The planned 150 boxes will contain fresh ham, potatoes, carrots, onions, canned fruit, peanut butter, milk, eggs, margarine, a loaf of bread and two liters of Pepsi.

Pooley said that demand for products from the Mitchell Food Pantry remains steady. For March, Pooley said the organization saw 24 new households take advantage of the pantry offerings. Those are households that had never utilized the pantry in the past.

“And in March there were 367 households with 1,076 people (who utilized pantry services),” Pooley said. “I don’t know that (the need) is going to change. That’s why we are here.”

The pantry saw an uptick in usage late in 2022 as the Christmas and New Years holidays approached. The reason for the decrease in usage at the pantry was somewhat of a mystery, Pooley said at that time, but she theorized that stimulus payments associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the Child Tax Credit tax relief in 2021, allowed some families to put more money toward their grocery bills.

Mitchell Food Pantry Easter by inforumdocs on Scribd

But judging by the numbers Pooley is seeing in terms of pantry patronage, the need is still very much there.

The Easter dinner project was sparked by a donation from a patron, Pooley said, and that reflects the generous nature of the Mitchell community and the associated charitable organizations that help funnel needed resources to the pantry. She said the pantry is grateful for the continued support.

“We have no control of our clients and not much control over our income. We don’t have much control of our donations,” Pooley said. “Our churches — that’s where we come from, the churches — they’re all good to us. If we say this is what we need, we’ll get it. Do we get enough? Maybe not, but we give what we get.”


The Easter boxes contain a fair portion of fruits and vegetables, and Pooley said she would love to see the organization be able to give more of that type of product away. Being able to give our healthy, nutritious options is a benefit to the people who use the pantry and their ongoing health.

One way the pantry is encouraging the donation of such products is the Plant A Row program, where the pantry asks local gardeners to plant a row of produce specifically to give to the pantry. It’s a way hobbyist gardeners can give back to the community without spending needed cash on groceries, instead putting some summer sweat equity into an extra row in their gardens.

Many gardeners often have too much product at the end of the growing season, anyway, and if they are looking for a place to give it away, the Mitchell Food Pantry is more than willing to take it.

Mitchell Food Pantry Plant a Row by inforumdocs on Scribd

“We’re saying plant a row for the food pantry and give us the food, but what we’re really asking is for the excess from their garden, not just one particular row,” Pooley said. “We get a lot of donated produce all summer long, and we’ve done this ‘plant a row’ thing for a long time, people just need to be reminded. As so we get the word out to donate your excess.”

Those interested in the Plant a Row program of the services of the Mitchell Food Pantry can call 605-990-3663 for more information. The pantry is open Mondays from noon to 3 p.m., Tuesdays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m, Wednesday from 9 a.m. to noon, Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Fridays from noon to 3 p.m.

Grocery prices, inflation spikes also challenging relief organizations

Erik Kaufman joined the Mitchell Republic in July of 2019 as an education and features reporter. He grew up in Freeman, S.D., graduating from Freeman High School. He graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1999 with a major in English and a minor in computer science. He can be reached at
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