Glean for Good blogger Beth Jensen says the three counties in South Dakota are the poorest in the country. The actual placings vary from source to source and whether we count by median income or poverty rate, but in terms of food on the table, Feeding America says that 46% of South Dakotans live below the SNAP threshold of 130% poverty, and 106,000 South Dakotans—about one in eight—are food insecure.
How do we feed those hungry neighbors? Feeding America says it would take an additional $54.6 million to end food insecurity in South Dakota. We might save some of that money with two of Jensen’s suggestions. First, the Sioux Falls writer recommends donating our garden surpluses to local food banks. Garden produce can provide nutrition sorely lacking in the usually canned, boxed, and processed goods on the donation shelves. But don’t just show up at the food bank with your buckets of extra tomatoes and zucchini; call ahead, make sure your food bank takes perishable items. If your food bank does take such donations, do them a favor and clean your produce.
Jensen offers a longer-term solution in her link to a Sioux Falls organization called Project Food Forest. Their goals include replacing invasive species with native edible plants in publicly accessible plots around the city. Project Food Forest, founded by Veronica Shukla and Jackie Severin, sees food forests as a way to feed people without bureaucratic hassle while promoting biodiversity, soil conservation, carbon sequestration, and natural beauty in Sioux Falls.
Money doesn’t grow on trees, but food does. Adding edible plants to city parks wouldn’t solve hunger year-round in South Dakota, but natural little grocery bushes and trees along the river would take a few bites out of our hunger problem.