The following is a feature on The Banquet, a $2,000 Final Four winner of #FNBGiveFirst 2019
The Banquet is a feeding ministry headquartered just outside of Downtown Sioux Falls, with a satellite location at the W.H. Lyon Fairgrounds serving two meals a week. Construction is currently underway for a new building for the satellite location to be completed early next year.
The ministry offers hot meals twice a day (breakfast and supper) to whomever walks through their doors, including poor, homeless, and disabled members of the Sioux Falls community.
In 2018, The Banquet served meals to 200,000 guests. According to a survey conducted by The Banquet, 10% of the people served are actually homeless. The majority of the guests who visit The Banquet during mealtimes are classified as “the working poor.” These are individuals who have a home and go to work each day but still don’t have the resources to put food on the table for themselves and in some cases, their children, too.
Guests of The Banquet do not need to provide any proof of need, and no staff or volunteer will inquire about a guest’s situation. This comes from the ministry’s belief that everyone should be treated with dignity and respect.
“When you ask someone to show proof that they need help, any dignity they had is immediately taken away,” Jerke-Liesinger explained.
Dignity and respect are core to The Banquet’s other programs as well. They’ve coordinated Project S.O.S (Supply our Students) for 28 years to provide school supplies to kids whose parents might not be able to afford it.
“People at The Banquet realized that if parents couldn’t feed their children, they couldn’t provide them with school supplies,” Jerke-Liesinger said.
Since then, the efforts of Project S.O.S. have provided new backpacks and school supplies to children in need. This year The Banquet distributed 6,500 backpacks filled with supplies specific to the needs of each child.
Prior to the start of each school year, The Banquet accepts donations of school supplies and new backpacks. Then, Volunteers pack thousands of bags according to school supply lists from all schools in Sioux Falls and surrounding areas.
Volunteer power and private funding fuel The Banquet. This can be a scary thing for an organization that provides free meals to thousands of people in need each week. Being one of the winners in the final four competition will make an incredible difference to The Banquet.
“Our relationship with First National Bank goes back a long, long ways. The Bank means a ton to us. To consistently be thought of for these opportunities is just an incredible thing,” Jerke-Liesinger said. “A basic human need that we all need fulfilled every single day is met for hundreds of people because of these gifts.”