The vision of FoodShare SC is to ensure access to fresh produce for all in South Carolina. In April 2016, the program launched in Columbia, SC. Twenty-four community members purchased a bulk box of fresh fruits and vegetables from a City parks and recreation community center. The program has since expanded to 400 boxes purchased during pick-up days, on a regular basis. It is now housed in a larger space within a Save-A-Lot grocery store, surrounded by low-income housing. The program participates in the SC SNAP Healthy Bucks Program, the state’s SNAP healthy incentive program. This program makes produce more affordable for people who receive SNAP.
How FoodShare SC works
- Participants purchase produce in bulk from a family-owned produce distribution company.
- Staff and volunteers sort the produce into individual sized boxes.
- Each box includes a recipe for healthy meals based on the types of produce in the box.
- Every other week, produce boxes sell for $20 in cash/$10 in SNAP for a large box, or $15 in cash/$5 in SNAP for a smaller box.
Expanding Access through Partnerships
Customers can order and pick-up their boxes at Save-A-Lot or from a partner site. Identified champions at these locations take orders and pick-up their share of boxes from the central location for delivery. This helps ensure access to the program for those who live in rural communities. Today, FoodShare has over 30 partner sites (e.g., schools, churches, community centers, low-income apartments, and health clinics).
“We serve both pregnant women and children, so we’re working with young families and young children within both a home-based setting and center-based setting. And health is one big component that we stress the most. So, participating with the food boxes just made sense given our mission and focus on health and nutrition … I think it’s a benefit to our families and, honestly, to our staff as well. We have a couple of staff members who qualify for SNAP benefits, so it’s been a real benefit to our staff to have access to fresh foods as well as our families to have that access.”
- Partner site champion
Connecting FoodShare SC to SNAP-Ed and the Results
The University of South Carolina (USC) began expanding the FoodShare SC model in 2017. This was a part of their SNAP-Ed programming. USC is a SC SNAP-Ed implementing agency. 14 additional partner sites were recruited. This supports the SNAP-Ed Evaluation Framework Indicator: MT5, nutrition supports adopted. Across these sites, 289 new customers were reached, primarily SNAP recipients.
A partnership was also created between a community-based farm organization and a low-income pediatric health clinic. They piloted the model in another region of the state. During the 7-week pilot, 35 unique patients and their families were reached. In 2018, the FoodShare SC Executive Director is working with five additional organizations around the state. The goal is to replicate the model as a part of SNAP-Ed programming.
This success story was written and submitted by the SNAP-Ed team in the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health. Please direct questions to Carrie Draper, MSW.