Ending Hunger across South Carolina one Food Box at a Time
A chilly wind whipped through the loading dock entrance of the V.B. Hook Warehouse building at the South Carolina State Farmers Market where FoodShare South Carolina volunteers checked in. While the building is refrigerated, a sense of warmth rushes over you when you walk indoors. Gordon Schell, FoodShare South Carolina associate director and self-proclaimed “ambassador of buzz,”uses a blow-horn to welcome volunteers so he can be heard over the hum of a conveyor belt that is used to help pack FoodShare boxes.
Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina has funded FoodShare from its early days, with its first grant in 2016. The Foundation helped support FoodShare’s strategic planning, which in turn helped set FoodShare up for the exponential growth the organization has seen. Members of the Foundation’s team recently visited FoodShare and our Hiller Davenport and Ericka Wooten got into the action, grabbing a spot on the line packing boxes.
FoodShare believes access to fresh, affordable food should not be limited by where you live or how much you make. Staff and volunteers work to make it easier for families in our state to enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. The vision of FoodShare is to ensure access to fresh produce for all in South Carolina. The organization’s primary program includes offering a Fresh Food Box that can be purchased for $5 using EBT.
“Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, funding from Sisters of Charity has allowed us to double our Fresh Food Box capacity”
Beverly Wilson, Executive Director, FoodShare
According to FoodShare Executive Director Beverly Wilson, food insecurity continues to plague families and individuals throughout South Carolina.
“Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, funding from Sisters of Charity has allowed us to double our Fresh Food Box capacity,” says Wilson. “We were able to hire a part-time program coordinator to grow our partner sites throughout the region who can expand the reach of FoodShare by taking orders from their respective communities and handling delivery for those boxes.”
FoodShare aims to serve low-income families, many of whom live in public housing and experience these challenges. American diets have shifted toward greater consumption of meals away from home, a reliance on convenience foods, and a decline in cooking meals at home. Access to healthy food is also a problem in some zip codes. These trends have contributed to the rise in obesity, diabetes and hypertension in an unprecedented number of children. In fact, 44% of K-12 students in South Carolina are overweight or obese.
“The FoodShare model has been critically important in filling the gaps in access to healthy foods for South Carolinians who face barriers,” says Donna Waites, the Foundation’s vice president of programs.
A recent poverty study conducted by the Foundation and the Rural and Minority Health Research Center at the University of South Carolina revealed structural barriers are perpetuating systemic poverty in South Carolina. Although there are many federal and local programs seeking to address hunger in the state and nation, there are still too many structural barriers for people to obtain access to the food they need, especially fresh produce.
“We are tremendously grateful to Sisters of Charity for their generous support and long-standing commitment to fighting poverty,” says Wilson. “Their support has been transformational in our fight to end hunger and allow South Carolinians to feed their families with dignity.”