Photo by Brett Nachtigall/Fall River County Herald-Star
Dan DeFries of Hot Springs, top, along with several other volunteers, help to unload a trailer full of 9,000 pounds of food that was recently donated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the Hot Springs Food Pantry.
By Brett Nachtigall
HOT SPRINGS – Last Thursday afternoon, May 14, trailers loaded with a total of 24 pallets of dry goods, weighing an estimated 21 tons, arrived at local food banks for unloading.
The Hot Springs Ministerial Association’s Food Bank, located in the former Hot Springs Star building at 107 N. Chicago, was one of the beneficiaries of the food. Other local food warehouses receiving the goods are located in Custer, Edgemont and Chadron, Neb.
The donation, totaling over $44,000, was sent from the Bishops’ Storehouse owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Donated goods include canned soups, vegetables, fruit, and other staples such as sugar and flour. These items will be distributed to food pantries throughout the local area including Custer, Hot Spring, and Chadron.
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is grateful for the opportunity to work with Feeding South Dakota to provide food resources for those who find themselves in need during this challenging time,” said Troy Nesbit, who helped coordinate the donation.
“Many of our members and missionaries have had the opportunity to volunteer at the Feeding South Da-kota facilities for several years but we are especially grateful to be able to contribute in this manner at this time. South Dakota is a wonderful place to live and we are appreciative for the established network, facilities, and passion Feeding South Dakota has created on behalf of our community that has made an en-deavor like this possible.”
Nesbit serves as the Rapid City Stake President for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which covers Custer, Hot Springs and Chadron.
Local Hot Springs Food Pantry manager Kay Birkholt said the donation of 9,000 pounds of food to the local food pantry “was huge for us.”
A very thankful Birkholt said the quality of the items they received was very high and were things that all of their clients can use. She added that had the Food Pantry not moved to their new location earlier this year, they would not have been able to accept all of the food that was available to them, due to lack of space in their former location. Being able to accept the full truckload, instead of only a small portion of it, makes it a lot easier for them to support the community, Birkholt said.
In addition to the usual staple of canned goods, the large truckload of items also included things like flour, sugar and cooking oil, which are things the pantry had previously not offered to its clients. Birkholt said those things will be a very welcome addition to the premade boxes they will be starting to distribute this week. All of the other food items they received will help the Food Pantry sustain their inventory for many more weeks as well.
President Keith Glover with the Hot Springs branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which also includes Custer and all of the communities in the southwestern corner of the state, said the donation of food to the area food pantries took “an interesting set of lo-gistics.”
He said a total of three semi-trucks delivered food to Feeding South Dakota – one full truck for Rapid City, one for Pierre and the surrounding areas, and one for the Southern Black Hills and Nebraska Panhandle – each carrying 24 pallets of food.
Volunteers from The Church, along with others, helped separate the food destined for the Southern Black Hills and Nebraska on the morning of May 14 and then delivered. Glover was in Custer for the delivery, where he said volunteers numbering about 30 formed a human chain to deliver the food.
This is the second year in a row that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints coordinated a large food donation for the area through Feeding South Dakota. Despite this year’s effort not being done in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Glover said this year’s delivery is coming at an ideal time since the chain of delivery for many food items have been disrupted.
Feeding South Dakota, where the Hot Springs Food Pantry gets a large portion of their usual items, is a hunger-relief organization. Each week, they provide assistance to 21,000 individuals and families and 5,500 children who might otherwise go hungry.
The Bishops’ Storehouse donates to causes around the world and is funded by donations from the mem-bers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.