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The Banquet fully reopens their dining room

Published: Jul. 3, 2021 at 9:45 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The Banquet has been serving food to those in need for the last 35 years here in Sioux Falls. The last year has been difficult for them due to the pandemic, but this week the Banquet has gotten back a little sense of normalcy.

In March of 2020, the Banquet had to close their dining room and serve all their meals-to-go, for the safety of volunteers and guests. But now their dining room is fully open again for anyone to come and have a meal.

The last 15 months have been a challenge for The Banquet navigating how to best provide meals to those in need while dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In March of 2020 when we had to go to all meals-to-go because of COVID-19, we were really challenged. Our volunteers dropped off very quickly,” said Tamera Jerke-Liesinger, The Banquets Executive Director. “We did not miss a beat, every meal that was scheduled was served, and we brought in a core group of little volunteers every day they made it happen.”

The Banquet made it through providing everyone they could with meals, but not having the dining room open made it feel like something was missing.

“That’s what the Banquet is known for, community, but I’ll be honest, we lost that to a small degree,” said Jerke-Liesinger. “It’s hard to share fellowship with a brief interaction when you’re handing somebody a meal out the door.”

The Banquet slowly started reopening to a limited number of guests in their dining area back in March of this year. But now that it is fully open for people to come and enjoy their meal in the dining area, volunteers are looking forward to connecting with guests again.

“That’s very exciting, that when you get to visit with the people, and you might be the only one that says hello to them for the day or to see how they’re doing,” said Cindy O’Donnell, The Banquet volunteer. “It makes you feel good, but it especially makes them feel good and to just be out there and be their friend and let them know you care about them.”

With the Banquet reopening their dining hall for full service, they need more volunteers to come and help prepare and serve meals to those in need. A link to the volunteer page on their website can be found by clicking here.

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