Church donation helps create holiday food boxes for Cheyenne River Reservation

Hundreds of families receive pantry staples and Thanksgiving food items

Food insecurity is a pressing issue for the Cheyenne River Reservation in north-central South Dakota, especially as inflation increases food costs. A recent delivery of two semi-trucks full of food from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints means hundreds of families have a boost during the holidays.

The food arrived at the Cheyenne River Youth Project — an Eagle Butte-based, Native-led nonprofit organization that provides youth programs and family services on the reservation. Missionaries from the North Dakota Bismarck Mission helped unload the pallets and organize the food, creating more than 350 food boxes. The boxes were then available for pickup on Nov. 22 and 23.

The food items included flour, sugar, oil, canned vegetables, pasta and meats such as roasts, turkey breasts and ham slices. The boxes included some holiday items but also many of food staples to last the families at least a week. 

Cheyenne River Youth Project Executive Director Julie Garreau said the food was high quality and delicious. 

“I got a card back from someone the next day saying, ‘Thank you for making my holiday.’” Garreau said. “People were so grateful. It gave them a boost during the holiday season.”

Garreau was grateful for the help from the missionaries. She said her organization has a small staff, and it would have taken them a lot longer to get all the work done.

The Church has supported the Cheyenne River community in the past with other food donations.

“We created a partnership and a friendship,” Garreau said. “It’s really about the Church helping a community that needs help.”

Elder James Kline, who serves as a member leader support missionary with his wife Sister Vickie Kline, said the young full-time missionaries worked quickly to complete the boxes to begin distribution.

“It was the hardest but most rewarding work that we’ve experienced in years,” he said. “The generous donations made by members of the Church provided a happy Thanksgiving for many members of the Cheyenne River Reservation.”

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