A recent report conducted by Feeding America paints a daunting picture of the issue of hunger in our country. Hunger in America 2014 utilizes data collected among the organization’s partner agencies and their program participants to determine services, capacity, and food distribution, as well as demographics of clients served.

While the report focuses on the national level, each of its key findings are relevant to South Carolina and are a direct correlation with our mission and scope of work:

One in seven Americans turn to the Feeding America network for food assistance: Existing South Carolina Feeding America agencies, the Lowcountry Food Bank, Harvest Hope, Golden Harvest Food Bank, and Second Harvest Food Bank, collectively distribute 108,535,836 pounds of food annually.

Low wages, underemployment and unemployment may drive need for food assistance: South Carolina’s unemployment rate of 5.7% is below the national rate of 6.2%, but remains a factor in food access and affordability.

Feeding America’s client population faces significant health challenges, including diabetes and high blood pressure: South Carolina is the 7th most obese state in the country and lags behind the rest of the nation in overall health measures. According to America’s Healthy Rankings 2013, South Carolina ranked 43rd on standard public health measures, including the prevalence of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Research links poor diet to negative health indices, and suggests that access to healthy, affordable food, is a key factor to eliminating the disparity.

Feeding America client households frequently face difficult decisions in an effort to ensure they have sufficient food: 30.2% of South Carolina homeowners are cost burdened—spending more than 30% of their monthly income on housing costs. Every day, many families must choose between housing, food, health care, and other essential services.

Through our financial, technical assistance, and advocacy efforts, we work to create equitable access to healthy, affordable food for all residents of South Carolina. Directly, we accomplish this by providing loans to community-based grocery stores and other food outlets. Indirectly, by practicing a holistic approach to community transformation, we work to address the correlating factors that impact an individual’s ability to access affordable food, including affordable housing. By ensuring all South Carolinians have access to affordable housing, we work to reduce the prevalence of hunger in our state.