Last week, during a the statewide food policy meeting, the SC Food Access Task Force released its healthy food financing initiative report, Access to Healthy Food in South Carolina. Embedded in its content are recommendations for developing a robust, healthy food economy in the state; the recommendations are rooted in a strategy that addresses capital, affordability, supply, planning, and transportation.

Capital: Develop a healthy food financing initiative to provide capital to support the establishment, renovation, or expansion of different food projects, including food hubs, farm businesses, mobile markets, small food stores, and full-service grocery stores that make available affordable, local, and healthy food.

Affordability: Ensure SNAP recipients are able to utilize farmers markets to purchase fresh, affordable South Carolina grown produce by expanding and sustaining the SNAP Healthy Bucks program.

Supply: Support existing and create new economic development programs that expand the supply of fresh, nutritious food in underserved communities and food deserts throughout the state.

Planning: Encourage local governments to integrate planning and zoning regulations into comprehensive plans that promote healthy food production, processing, distribution, and access.

Transportation: Encourage partnerships to develop affordable transportation services for communities without convenient access to a full-service grocery store.

Borne out of the South Carolina Food Policy Council and with support from the SC Department of Agriculture, the South Carolina Food Access Task Force was assembled to address the lack of access to healthy food in South Carolina. The Task Force is composed of over twenty members from the private, non-profit, government, and academic sectors with representation from a variety of industries including insurance, health, farming, banking, economic development, retail, and research.

Building upon initial findings of the SC Food Policy Council published in the report, “Growing Food and Opportunities,” the primary goal of the Task Force is to expand the availability of nutritious food by developing and equipping healthy food retail and wholesale markets in underserved communities through the formulation and implementation of key policy recommendations focused on reducing critical barriers to food access.

For more information on the Task Force or to read the report in its entirety, visit their website.