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Alternate Route Ahead: Food Bank Collaboration

Last Updated: May 6, 2020


Skyrocketing unemployment rates combined with the need for social distancing pose a unique obstacle for local food banks. To safely combat the issue, University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine M1-M4 students, in coordination with Avera Sacred Heart Hospital Volunteer Services, Feeding South Dakota, and United Way of Yankton, are distributing emergency food boxes to community members in need. Medical student volunteers pack and distribute emergency food boxes containing essential food items into community member’s car trunks during a weekly drive-thru food bank. In addition, medical students document vulnerable populations served by the food bank (i.e. number of children in household, household members over 65) in order to adequately prepare for subsequent banks. Finally, students play a vital role in educating partner organizations about current safety guidelines and proper personal protective equipment (PPE) use. Prior to student involvement, our cohort and administration worked with community partners to ensure volunteers are properly screened and able to maintain distancing guidelines throughout the project. Before each food bank we coordinate meetings for these screenings and PPE donning. Students have participated in weekly drives since late March, and have packed, loaded, and distributed food to approximately 2,000 households in Yankton, SD and surrounding areas.


Claire Porter, M3, University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine (claire.porter@coyotes.usd.edu)