Fighting food scarcity at LHS


Used with Permission by Tanielle Sylvester

If you or someone you know struggles with food insecurity in the home, reach out to the counseling office for information to assure food for your family.

Anna Anderson, Feature Editor

As the holiday season approaches, it becomes more and more apparent of the food insecurity that is present not only in South Dakota, but in the nation as a whole. According to Feeding South Dakota, one out of every nine people struggle with food scarcity in their daily lives, and one in six children are at risk of going hungry.  

These nationwide statistics prove themselves to be even more staggering, with over 34 million people, including nine million children being food insecure according to Feeding America. Feeding South Dakota has had partnership with the Sioux Falls School District for many years and has come up with various programs throughout the years to help school-age children and their families with food access.  Some of these include filling backpacks with non-perishable food and canned food drives. However at LHS, a new system was created for the school yearr. This revamped system at LHS offers a small food pantry located in the ROTC room in the E Wing. This cabinet offers a relatively private system for any student to grab what they need for that specific day from the cabinet.

LHS counselor Sylvester, the main coordinator for the food pantry for the school year, was contacted by Feeding South Dakota at the beginning of the school year to come up with a revamped system to support a gateway to easy access food for high school students and their families. Since high schoolers already carry backpacks that are very full and heavy, the previous system of supplying bags of groceries in elementary and middle school is not as realistic for high school students both for privacy and simplicity purposes. 

“It’s difficult for a high school student with a very full backpack to then also carry a very heavy bag of groceries,” said Sylvester. “It’s not very confidential or discreet.” 

The average flow of food coming in is around four totes a week with the current demand, each with a different category of food product such as grain, canned foods, protein and others. Students who utilize the cabinet are essentially allowed unlimited access, as long as an adult from the building comes with them. 

“Students do need a teacher to go with them, but it can be any teacher or faculty member,” said Sylvester. “They are allowed to go as many times in the week as they need, however much they need to access it.” 

Despite this new way of distributing food, there has been great success thus far with three shipments of food coming in. Being one of the first high schools in the district to incorporate this new program, LHS serves as a pilot project to hopefully carry on into the rest of the Sioux Falls high schools and possibly into elementary and middle school classrooms in addition to the ‘fill a backpack’ program.

“We’ve had a lot of student support with regard to keeping the shelves stocked,” said Sylvester. “We are still trying to evaluate which products are most popular, and we will try to carry those and refrain from things that aren’t readily taken.”

Before picking up food from the pantry, students must sign out a form that asks for their school, date, initials and the total number of people that are in the household. 

“This way Feeding South Dakota can verify how many individual people they are serving,” said Sylvester. 

To be allowed access to the cabinet, contact Sylvester in the counseling office for the sign up sheet, and find a staff member at LHS to go down with you to the little ROTC room in the lower level of the E wing.