The Banquet is more than simply a place where hungry people find a warm meal. Yes, it is about nourishment; but of the soul, just as much as for the body. It is a ministry of acceptance, fellowship, and love. It is a philosophy of, "there but for the grace of God, go I". Their mission is to serve, not only food, but kindness, compassion, and understanding.

What does the face of hunger look like? Like you. Like me. Like the person serving you at your favorite restaurant or convenience store, checking you out at the grocery store, keeping your child's school clean, your elderly neighbors or grandparents, the daycare worker caring for your child, the veteran who served our country.

Yes, some are homeless or unemployed, but the truth is, most patrons are working people, and families with children having trouble making ends meet and elderly citizens with extremely limited incomes.

The Banquet has been a member of our community for 32 years, and last year it served 196,000 meals, at least 25,000 of which were served to children under 12.

Unfortunately hunger has never taken a holiday. The need in Sioux Falls continues to grow and The Banquet is gearing up to meet that need and asking for our community's help. Their current fundraising campaign will allow The Banquet to build and equip a second location to serve the hungry in northwest Sioux Falls.

The Banquet has already been gifted the land they need, and now the plan is to build a 7,000 square foot building, with a kitchen, dining room, restrooms, and waiting area, west of I-29 and near Hayward Elementary School, (coincidentally over 76% of Hayward students qualify for free or reduced price lunches).

If you can contribute, please do. You could even make a pledge over a three-year period, or longer if need be. There is currently a Banquet West registry at Maxwell's so you can see what is needed.

There are so many ways to make a difference. You can also volunteer at any time, to make and serve meals, to work in the children's room, or to help with special projects. If you're a gardener with an overabundance of produce you can bring it to The Banquet, (900 E. 8th street) Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 4 PM.

What I always try to remember is, at any time, we could all be in the shoes of someone needing that kind of help and understanding.

For more information see The Banquet online, on Facebook or call 605-335-7066.

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