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Thousands of South Dakota children are trapped in poverty

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Thousands of South Dakota children are trapped in poverty

  • George Rokusek, western operations manager for Feeding South Dakota, stands among food products that will be placed into bags that fit into backpacks of needy children. Rokusek said the backpack program foods are chosen specifically so children of working parents can easily prepare and consume them without adult assistance. Photo: Bart Pfankuch

Over the past decade, the number of South Dakota children in families that qualify for food stamps has jumped substantially — growing 47 percent from 2007 to 2017. That means more than 40,000 children in the state are at risk of receiving proper nutrition.

Even with food stamps, and supplemental food provided by food pantries run by Feeding South Dakota and other groups, many South Dakota families still require public assistance to get by. Children at risk of malnutrition tend to do poorly in school and face other mental and physical challenges due to poverty.

Challenges in obtaining food is yet another indicator that South Dakota is home to a mostly hidden population of people living on the margin.
Reporter Bart Pfankuch examines the statistics and talks with families and others about this ongoing challenge in the latest from South Dakota News Watch. Read it here.