The South Dakota Cattlemen's Foundation presented a check for $115,831 to Feeding South Dakota at its recent Prime Time Gala.
SDCF hosted the inaugural event with two goals in mind: to raise money for Feeding South Dakota and to build awareness of Feeding South Dakota's shortage of protein for hungry individuals.
"The turnout and financial support speaks volumes about the character of South Dakotans and their willingness to help those in need," Ryan Eichler, SDCF president says. "We would also like to thank all of the sponsors of the event. Their kindness not only allowed us to put on a first class event, but also brings awareness to the importance of sustainable food production and how it relates to one of South Dakota's biggest issues; hunger."
Feeding South Dakota provides emergency food assistance to thousands of people in any given week and hundreds of men, women and children every day. However, of the approximately 12.5 million pounds of food distributed by Feeding South Dakota to individuals and families in 2013, only 4% was meat. Therefore, securing protein for distribution is a critical need of Feeding South Dakota.
"We are humbled and overwhelmed by the response to the event," Matt Gassen, Executive Director, Feeding South Dakota says. "The money raised will make a significant difference in providing critical protein to hungry individuals in need across South Dakota. We are so grateful for the opportunity to work with such a passionate group of individuals at the Cattlemen's Foundation."
The Gala, held in Sioux Falls, included an upscale beef banquet dinner and a concert featuring multi-platinum country artist Gary Allan and country up-and-comer Brett Eldrege. Featured speakers included U.S. Rep., Kristi Noem, R-S.D. and Jeff Simmons, President of Elanco.
Simmons, speaking to the 900 banquet attendees, talked about the hunger need around the world and the role producers can take.
"We need heroes and I am more fired up after being here and seeing the inspiration you have, not only what you're doing as an industry, but that everyone here wants to be part of something much bigger and make a difference. Hungry people matter. American agriculture, South Dakota agriculture, the beef industry – our best days lie ahead of us but the hungry people will be the ones that will write the better days ahead," Simmons said.
Simmons also encouraged farmers and ranchers to tell their stories and Todd Wilkinson, SDCF board member believes the Prime Time Gala was an opportunity to do so.
"As a beef producer, we have a nutritious and healthy product that can supply critically needed protein for a healthy diet.
This event helped tell the story about beef production," Todd Wilkonson, SDCF board member added. "We are already planning the details for next year's Prime Time Gala."