RAPID CITY, S.D.– This year, Rapid City’s Pizza Ranch and Black Hills Community Bank raised $21,600 for the 12 Days of Pizza program. Since 2015, both organizations have teamed up to provide meals to families in the Rapid City area.
The program started with “Napoleon Dynamite” producer Sean Covel. A South Dakota native of Edgemont, Covel got the idea after hearing from a teacher in his hometown about how half of the class was worried whether they would have food over Christmas break.
In a matter of days, Covel, Rapid City’s Pizza Ranch, and the bank had pieced together the program. They started with one school in the area where teachers gave 12 children 12 days of pizza or chicken meals.
“Just over Christmastime is tough. Some of these families don’t know where their next meal’s coming from if the kids aren’t getting their school lunches or school breakfasts,” Owner and Operator of Rapid City’s Pizza Ranch Terry Larsen said. “So, it’s a perfect combination. Perfect time to do it.”
By 2017, the program had grown out of Rapid City and adopted by locations nationwide.
This year, over five years since it began, teachers were able to select 12 students from every Rapid City school to receive meals this holiday season.
“They see this every day and they know which families need it most. And so they choose,” President and CEO of Black Hills Community Bank Jack Lynass explained. “And the child does not get a handout. The child wins these certificates and he goes home as excited as anybody could be to say ‘I just won 12 days of pizza for the family.’”