Summer Feeding Hero


Running Strong for American Indian Youth’s Impactful Summer Youth Feeding Program

Running Strong for American Indian Youth® has once again proven its unwavering commitment to fighting child hunger on the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation in South Dakota. On June 3, the organization kicked off its annual Summer Youth Feeding Program (SYFP), ensuring that approximately 200 Native children and youth under the age of 18 will receive free lunches and take-home snacks each weekday for 49 days. This initiative, which runs until August 9, will provide an impressive total of 19,600 meals and “grab-n-go” snack bags.

Since its inception in 2005, the SYFP has been a lifeline for children on the reservation who would otherwise face food insecurity during the summer months when school-provided meals are unavailable. The program’s impact extends far beyond mere sustenance, promoting health, well-being, and readiness for the upcoming school year.

The SYFP Locations and Their Significance

The SYFP operates at three key locations on the reservation: the Red Scaffold Catholic Church in Red Scaffold, the Boys & Girls Club in LaPlante, and the nutrition center in Cherry Creek. These sites are more than just meal distribution points; they are community hubs where children gather for nourishment and social interaction. Each location plays a vital role in the program’s success, ensuring that children from different parts of the reservation have access to nutritious meals.

Stacie Lee, the dedicated food service manager for Running Strong, has overseen the program for years and witnessed its profound impact firsthand. She observes the daily gratitude expressed by parents, guardians, and children, highlighting how the program alleviates the burden on working parents who might otherwise struggle to provide midday meals.

Open Sites: Inclusive and Accessible

One of the standout features of the SYFP is its “open site” policy, which means that any child or youth under 18 can come and enjoy a free, nutritious meal without any barriers. This inclusivity ensures that no child goes hungry and that all can benefit from the program’s offerings. The meals not only prevent hunger but also support the children’s overall health and happiness, keeping them energized and ready for school when classes resume in late August.

Employment Opportunities and Community Support

In addition to feeding children, the SYFP also provides employment opportunities for food service workers at the various sites. This dual benefit of addressing child hunger and creating jobs strengthens the community economically and socially. Workers like Mandy, who has been involved since 2010, emphasize the program’s importance in a region where access to grocery stores can be both costly and logistically challenging.

Voices of Gratitude and Impact

The testimonials from community members paint a vivid picture of the SYFP’s impact. Stacie Lee’s appreciation for Running Strong’s consistent support underscores the program’s critical role in providing meals that would otherwise be unavailable. Parents like Lyndsey from Red Scaffold express heartfelt gratitude, noting how the program gives their children something to look forward to every day.

Running Strong’s Long-Term Commitment

Running Strong for American Indian Youth® has demonstrated a long-term commitment to addressing food insecurity on the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation. By consistently funding and operating the SYFP for nearly two decades, the organization has become a cornerstone of support for the community. This steadfast dedication ensures that children are not only fed but also cared for and valued.

Looking Ahead: The Future of SYFP

As the SYFP continues to evolve, Running Strong remains committed to its mission of combating child hunger. The organization’s supporters play a crucial role in sustaining these efforts, enabling the program to reach more children and expand its services. The success of the SYFP serves as a powerful example of what can be achieved when communities come together to support their most vulnerable members.

Conclusion: A Model of Compassion and Commitment

Running Strong for American Indian Youth® and its Summer Youth Feeding Program exemplify the power of compassion, community, and commitment. By ensuring that children on the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation have access to nutritious meals during the summer, the program not only addresses immediate needs but also fosters long-term health and well-being. The SYFP is a beacon of hope and a testament to what can be achieved through dedicated support and collective effort.

Support the Program

To support the Summer Youth Feeding Program and ensure that no child on the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation goes hungry, consider donating to Running Strong for American Indian Youth®. Your contribution can make a significant difference in the lives of these children and help sustain the program for years to come. Donate here.

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