An estimated one out of every 16 households in South Carolina, and one out of every 26 households nationally, are disproportionately affected by food security, the ability to make available nutritionally adequate and safe foods.  Vulnerable populations include children, the elderly, ethnic minorities, and low-income households.  Despite efforts on the local and national level, hunger remains a daunting reality in our communities.

To better understand the scope of hunger and its leading factors, the US Department of Agriculture contracted with RTI International to prepare a written report on food security in America.  The report, Current and Prospective Scope of Hunger and Food Security in America: A Review of Current Research, highlights the following significant determinants of food insecurity:

-Prevalence of food insecurity among households with children (20%) is higher than the national average (14.5%)

-African American, American Indian, and Hispanic households experience food insecurity at higher rates than white, non‐Hispanic households

-Economic hardships, including unemployment status and low socio-economic status, are key determinants of food insecurity among racial and ethnic minorities

-When neighborhood housing costs are high and exceed a significant portion of the household income, families have higher chances of experiencing food insecurity

The correlation between food insecurity and housing affordability has been confirmed repeatedly, and is a driving force of CLF’s work to transform communities across South Carolina.   According to the USDA, risk factors for food insecurity include socio-economic status, rising energy and food prices, unemployment rates, and high housing costs.

CLF’s comprehensive approach to transforming communities encompasses the belief that viable, sustainable communities provide the services and resources necessary to meet the needs of its residents.  This includes creating affordable housing opportunities and access to healthy, affordable food.  Our work over the past ten years has positioned us as the state’s leading financier of affordable housing, and our recent work in the healthy food financing arena has brought us national recognition.

Our approach to eradicating food insecurities in our state is two-fold.  The first is through our Healthy Food Financing Initiative.   Our lending program provides critical financing for the development of healthy food outlets, with the goal to create access to healthy, affordable food in underserved communities across the state.  As a member of the SC Food Access Task Force, we have set forth recommendations for the development of a statewide healthy food financing initiative that will increase available funding for the communities we serve.

Our second approach is education.  Feeding Innovation is our comprehensive technical assistance program designed to support entrepreneurs interested in developing or expanding healthy food businesses.  The goal of the program is to increase access to healthy food while supporting the development of strong, local entrepreneurs and community-based businesses.

We believe equitable food access is a cornerstone for healthy communities—communities in which everyone has the opportunity to participate, work, and prosper.  This belief is the foundation for our food financing initiative, and is the driving force in our efforts to eradicate food insecurities in our state.

For more information on our Healthy Food Financing Initiative or Feeding Innovation program, please contact Anna Hamilton at anna@sccommunityloanfund.org.