WATCH: Increasing access to fresh produce for all South Carolinians

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) – The new “Farm to Food Bank” program from the S.C. Department of Agriculture aims to make sure that everyone in South Carolina, regardless of socioeconomic status, has access to fresh, frozen or canned fruits and vegetables. The goal is to encourage healthy lifestyle habits.

“We do have one of the highest diabetes rates in the country in our state so we’re kind of helping to kind of quell that,” SCDA marketing manager Emily Joyce said. “We want to provide healthy food access to everybody regardless of their location, regardless of their income.” “The State of Obesity” ranks South Carolina tenth in the nation for obesity, with 32 percent of adults, weighing-in as obese.

The pilot program is being funded by a larger grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to DHEC. Six counties, including Richland, have been identified as having an urgent-need of better access to produce for those living in poverty. As the program progresses, nine more counties, including Kershaw, Orangeburg, Calhoun, Lee and Fairfield, will be added. It’s not all about food banks. The program also seeks to make sure rural areas, often with just one “corner store,” have adequate access to produce.
One in six families in our state does not have enough food for dinner each night. In the Midlands, Harvest Hope Food Bank helps fill that void. Marketing manager Ash Lee said about 25 percent of the 28 million pounds of food they dish out annually is produce. The food bank currently works with about 15 farms, taking-in produce that cannot be sold wholesale to a store. It also gets a large amount from national grocery store chains.Since most state food banks already hand out produce, the program will provide more education, including sending health experts into target communities, and further foster those local relationships.

Categories: Calhoun, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lee, Lexington, Local News, Orangeburg, Richland