Nationwide, U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development has partnered with the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to increase food security, and reduce hunger by providing eligible low-income families access to healthy foods and nutrition education through its nutrition assistance programs. For the past several years, we have been partnering to feed children when school is out for the summer. At present, we are trying to build the number of Multi-Family Housing Properties providing support in South Dakota.
Not to be overlooked by this effort, the Parkview Villa Apartments complex in Wagner, South Dakota has been very instrumental in the success of the senior meals program in Wagner. This USDA Rural Development financed multi-family housing (MFH) property provides the kitchen and dining room facilities to the Dakota Senior Meals program financed through the South Dakota Department of Health’s nutrition program with federal assistance. The MFH congregate also pays for all the utilities generated through this program. Managers at this MFH property, Norm and Judy Cihak, along with friends, donate many hours each week to support it.
“I deliver meals to the home bound people in Wagner and my wife handles the meal payment and meal ticket sales for all participants,” said Norm Cihak, MFH Manager of Parkview Villa.
Prior to Parkview Villa obtaining the congregate property and overseeing the senior meals program, it had failed and been shutdown by the community. Cihak shared that having the senior meals program at Parkview Villa has helped the property maintain a high tenant rate and it allows them to provide a service that is a big asset to the elderly in the community of Wagner and surrounding areas within the county and it fulfills one of the five basic human needs - food. In addition, meals are cooked at this facility, picked up by volunteers and delivered to others in the community, as well as to others living in communities within Charles Mix County.
“Thanks for the focus on Norm and Judy. They are the unsung heroes here. They do it for one reason, it’s the right thing to do. There’s no ego, no expectation of recognition, just the self-satisfaction that they are helping take care of those who aren’t always able to fully take care of themselves,” said Bryan Slaba, Director of Parkview Villa, Inc.