School will soon be out for children on the Cheyenne River Sioux Indian and Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservations in South Dakota, and thanks to the supporters of Running Strong for American Indian Youth® since August we have been able to provide nearly 13,000 “Smart Sacks” to students ensuring they and their family members will not go hungry over the weekend.
Each week the Takini School on Cheyenne River and the Wakapla School, a K-12 school on Standing Rock, distributed 180 grocery sacks filled with food items such as tuna and canned meats, canned pasta, canned vegetables and fruits, and more, all to ensure that students do not return to school on Monday mornings famished, lethargic and unable to focus on their classwork due to hunger.
On school days, students receive two meals – perhaps their only two – meals of the day, but on the weekends at home, there is no such guarantee.
“Some, if not all, of our students, struggle with food insecurities on weekends and during holidays,” said Fred Fischer, food service director at Wakpala told us prior to the start of the school year, the first year for the Smart Sacks program there.
The program was initiated at the school by 2015 Running Strong Dreamstarter Samantha Yellow Fat who today is a social worker there.
Now Samantha is focused doing the best she can for the children at the school, including her concern about the students’ nutrition and food insecurity in their homes, and that’s why she reached out to Running Strong to request participating in the Smart Sacks program for her school.
And with that from Samantha and Fred, we were only too pleased to be able to grant their request and coordinate the food program with them and Feeding South Dakota to provide an estimated nearly 5,800 Smart Sacks in the next school year, which at about five pounds each, amounts to some 29,000 pounds of weekend food.
Samantha is grateful to the supporters of Running Strong for enabling us to provide Smart Sacks to the Wakpala children and families to help ease food insecurity on her reservation – and we are grateful to her for bringing the matter to our attention.
“My goal after graduating was to use my degree and social work license to continue working with youth, particularly Native American youth,” says Samantha. “I am currently able to do so and on my own Rez!”