Scholars Discuss Nutrition of Poor Families

According to the DSS over 100,000 households in South Carolina depend on SNAP benefits to feed their families. On Friday, health advocates and educators came together to discuss the current hunger problem within the state.

"These are the important issues for us to be working on," Carrie Draper said.

Draper works for USC's center of research and nutrition health disparities.

And after working intimately with families who rely on SNAP benefits, she said they face tough decisions.

"Because of the amount that they get with SNAP [they're] really just thinking about the bottom line, what is the least expensive food that we can buy," Draper said.

According to the CDC about half of all adults and adolescents say they eat less than one serving of fruits daily.

And 1/4 of adults say the same about vegetables.

Director of the Center , Dr. Sonya Jones, says this is where legislature is needed.

"Let's start talking to congress about policies that would set up a sustainable and healthy food supply that supports rural economies in South Carolina," Jones said.

Instead, South Carolina is looking at a plan to ask for federal funds to test a SNAP pilot program in Bamberg, Calhoun and Orangeburg Counties.

Where SNAP recipients have to prove they have work or are looking for work before they receive benefits.

"A particular challenge in the state is that there are not enough jobs for people, so most participants spend time looking for work while they're on the program rather than actually gainfully finding employment," Jones said.

The center suggests SNAP users should be given incentives, not consequences.

They'll be testing their own pilot program over the summer at six farmers markets to help SNAP users buy double the produce.

"Ending child hunger and food insecurity is doable, but we just need to have the will as a state and as a country," Draper said.

According to the USDA there are currently 47 farmers markets around the state that accept SNAP benefits, for the list you can visit their website.


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