Harvest Hope gets needed donation from local food chains

Walmart, Tyson Foods, and Bimbo Bakery joined together to make the donation a reality

Columbia, SC (WOLO) —Hunger has long been a problem in South Carolina but the need has grown during the pandemic according to those with Harvest Hope Food Bank.

With supply chain issues nationwide, keeping food in stock for all the clients it serves is a challenge to the food bank.

“Typically, 1 in 8 people across the county do not know where they are going to get their meal tonight. We just hope this is one way we can give back and help stamp out hunger,” said Kenny Ballas, Tyson Foods retail operations manager.

With many unemployed during the pandemic and unemployment aid ending in South Carolina, the impact of COVID is still being felt in the form of food insecurity.

“It has increased. It was increased during COVID. There was hunger before COVID. We knew it was out there,” said Erinn Rowe, Harvest Hope Food Bank CEO. “COVID shed a light on it which I’m thankful for because it let us see what was driving it. Those root cause issues are still there so we are still going to see an increase over the next few years.”

There’s also a need right now. To help out, Walmart, Tyson Food and Bimbo Bakeries teamed up to give the food bank 15,000 pounds of food, equal to more than 12,000 meals.

“There’s probably 50 cars or so lined up,” Ballas said. “It was good to see that we’re bringing in food to help people that are in line.”

Harvest Hope helps not just people in Columbia. It has distribution centers in Greenville and Florence and works to get food to more rural communities as well.

“We have about 300 to 400 agencies who come and get the food and give it to clients,” Rowe said. “We are always looking at food deserts and rural areas that do not have access to safe food. 

Now that the food bank has enough food, it is looking for another resource, one that was in short supply earlier in the pandemic.

“There was a volunteer shortage,” Rowe said .”I believe as the vaccine has rolled out and with our social distancing practices, we are seeing our volunteers coming back in. We love them. We encourage anyone who wants to volunteer to come out and volunteer.”

Employees from the three companies stuck around and volunteered their time packing up food for the food bank after the large donation was presented.

Categories: Local News, Richland