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Mobile food pantry coming to Kershaw County

Posted: May 9, 2016 5:46 p.m.
Updated: May 10, 2016 1:00 a.m.
Tenell Felder/C-I

Regina Mohammad and her daughters, Becky and Susie, receive fruit from UWKC Director for Support Services Nicholas Julian. The mobile center truck (in the background) will distribute fresh vegetables and fruits across Kershaw County.

The United Way of Kershaw County (UWKC) is partnering with Eat Smart Move More, Second Look and food pantries across the county to provide healthier food options to Kershaw County residents who depend on food donations. 

“We will have a mobile food pantry which will be loaded with fruits and vegetables. We will be taking it out to places known as ‘food deserts,’ where people don’t have access to local grocery stores. We hope to start the program in June,” UWKC President Donny Supplee said. 

Camden City Planner Sean Putnam works with Eat Smart Move More and explained why people living in a food desert can have a difficult time getting access to fresh fruits and vegetables.  

“We want to do what we can to help provide access,” Putnam said. “(Having access) is a combination of availability and transportation. When the only place to get fresh fruit and vegetables is 20 to 30 miles away and you don’t have a car, that is a significant problem, particularly in the northern part of the county. This, in addition with the warehouse we will have here will help. We will be able to store food here and accept more donations, that will help feed food into the mobile.”

In addition to the mobile unit, a warehouse on the UWKC site is currently being renovated for the purpose of storing both perishable and non perishable foods and will feature a freezer. 

“Most food pantries have only non perishables … so we will be bringing fresh fruits and vegetables here, hopefully meat as well,” Supplee said.

Supplee said the warehouse will coordinate with shelters to collect surplus food and perishable items. 

“We’ve already met with a number of pantries, there are 15 throughout the county ... we are making it clear to our food pantries we are not trying to duplicate or replace them,” he said. “For example, let’s say a pantry has a deal set up in Elgin where they are picking up from IGA on Wednesday’s. If they weren’t picking up on other days we might fill that part, if there is the availability. We want the local pantries to continue what they are doing and doing well, we want to supplement them.”

UWKC Director for Support Services Nicholas Julian said the warehouse will feature a storage area and a process line.

“There will be a process line. Ideally we will have a list of items that consists of healthy meals or a series of healthy meals and from that list volunteers are going to go into the pantry, select the food items and pack the box. There will be freezers towards the back and they will go the site and distribute the food,” Julian said.

Below are facts about hunger in Kershaw County:

• 6,182 of county school children struggle to eat three times a day.

 • Almost 3,000 households live farther than walking or biking distance to food resources and do not have a vehicle.

• 20,155 county residents are classified by the USDA as low income with low access to food.

• Kershaw County’s current pantries struggle to reach less than 10 percent of the demand for SNAP benefit supplementation in the county.

 The program is set to kick off in late June. 

 

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