Bread Ministry Distributes Baked Goods To Many In Area

In today's economic climate, many people are counting every penny when it comes to day-to-day expenses.

That's why an area bread ministry is such a welcome development for Gayville, Volin and Wakonda families.

Since last winter, the Bread Ministry — headquartered in Wakonda — has been receiving baked goods through the South Dakota Food Bank in Sioux Falls, which has been distributing the products statewide with help from Wal-Mart and Feeding America.

At 8:45 a.m. each Tuesday, a truck carrying approximately 600 pounds of bread arrives at Wakonda Baptist Church, which can then be distributed throughout the area.
"They come in with pallets of stuff," said John Wilkinson, who, along with his wife Connie, helped bring the program to the area. "The stuff hasn't even hit the (sales) floor, most of it. It's all extra-ordered food."

The food is distributed at the church from 9-11 a.m., after which time it is taken to various area distribution sites, some of which include Gayville's CorTrust Bank and the Volin Cafe.

Bread and baked goods can be picked up at any of these sites by any interested person.

"It's available to anybody who needs it," said volunteer Mike Gaidelis. "We're not going to check your tax return."

The ministry has gone on long enough now to where the volunteers have a system of getting everything ready for distribution.

"The trucks will come in and they'll give us some boxes," Wilkinson said. "The boxes are all different, so we'll have to go through all of them to find out what is in them."

The volunteers then take the contents and make individual packages to be picked up.

"We usually put a pastry in them, a cake, a couple loaves of French bread, a couple loaves of bread, hotdog buns, hamburger buns and dinner rolls," Wilkinson said.

Occasionally, the ministry will also receive larger items, such as sheet cakes.

"Sometimes we even get the decorated ones that people pay $25 for," Wilkinson said. "We've been saving some of the sheet cakes for people who might need a cake for a little boy who's having a birthday or something like that. We might just happen to have one. And it saves them $25."

Although it seldom happens, some items arrive damaged. But that doesn't mean these aren't used, as well. While they aren't fit for human consumption, Wilkinson said they will often be given to farmers who can feed them to their livestock.

He said he was "amazed" the first time the delivery truck arrived with such a large amount of product.

"I don't know what they did before we got the food banks," he said. "They had to have just thrown it away."

Although the Wilkinsons started the area program last winter, they are no longer as actively involved, leaving much of the work to volunteers like Gaidelis and Barbara Egbert. However, John Wilkinson said he and his wife hope to get back to it soon.

Egbert said the couple deserved a lot of credit for the program's success.

"They are very humble people, and they have worked so hard with this," she said.

Wilkinson said he's glad to see the program flourish.

"We figured one day that it's more than 100 families that (the program) touches," he said. "Barbara comes and gets between five and six boxes of it, the Irene Food Bank gets boxes of it. It's just word-of-mouth. It's filling a need that the community has."

Other communities are filling that need now, as well, with Centerville and Beresford establishing similar programs.

"People need this," Wilkinson said. "In this economy, it just fills the need, because everybody is stretched so tight. Everybody is just stretched paper-thin. I think it's absolutely wonderful that it's here."

Egbert agreed. "This program is such a blessing," she said.

People who are interested either in receiving bread or volunteering to help with packing or distribution are encouraged to contact Egbert at 267-4336.

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