In the community of Oldham, you can find a bridge. Not your typical bridge covering a waterway or creek, but the Sharing Bridge. This is the name of the food pantry in Oldham. The mission of the food pantry is to provide a little stability to those who need encouragement “to bridge the gap between the end of their groceries and the beginning of their funds.”
The food pantry team, as they refer to themselves, is a group of five people. They consist of Sandy Smith, Sheila Huntimer, Paul Johnson and Brad and Cathy Folsland. The group recalled how years ago and until 2010, food boxes were distributed for major holidays.
That is when the Sharing Bridge partnered with the Oldham Area Improvement Corporation. This allowed them to purchase food from Feeding South Dakota and utilize a federal assistance program known as The Emergency Food Assistance Program.
This TEFAP program has eligibility guidelines based on a person’s income but has seen some changes because of the COVID-19 situation. The Sharing Bridge also provides regular grocery products for those who do not meet the guidelines for the TEFAP.
Sharing Bridge operates with the help of memorials and monetary donations, not only personal but also from surrounding churches and area organizations. One family donates a 45-roll package of toilet paper each month. Local 4-H groups have contributed through their food drives as well as the rural mail carrier’s food drives.
Through the generous donation of two seamstresses and local churches, clients were even able to receive a homemade quilt. The freezer that holds the food pantry’s frozen products was given in memory of an individual. Also, some individuals have used their Thrivent card to make purchases for Sharing Bridge. The food pantry always welcomes donations to help reach out to those who need encouragement.
These monetary donations help the Sharing Bridge purchase food such as canned goods, refrigerated items (cheese, eggs and milk), occasional fresh fruits and vegetables, bread, hamburger and other meat products from Feeding South Dakota.
Items not available from Feeding South Dakota such as laundry soap, dish soap, shampoo and toothpaste are periodically purchased.
On distribution day, Feeding South Dakota arrives with its monthly delivery of food products. Trucks are unloaded in the morning, and the team meets with clients in the afternoon.
The group is quick to acknowledge family and community volunteers who help unload the truck. The food pantry distributes to an average of 14-18 households, including children.
The Sharing Bridge serves the southeast portions of Kingsbury County and northwest portions of Lake County. Word of mouth, public notices and area pastors have helped to reach those in need. The team is also careful to keep families’ identities confidential if they desire.
Sharing Bridge is open the third Monday of the month from 2-6 p.m. at the Oldham Gym.