COLUMBIA, S.C. — A new statewide network has been created to make it easier for South Carolina's farmers and food producers to get their products from the farm to your table.
Growing Local SC is bringing together local food hubs, agencies, organizations, coalitions and businesses to create a resilient food distribution network built on equitability and effectiveness to bring local food to South Carolinians.
The network is funded $479,893 through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Regional Food System Partnership Grant and $133,687 in matching funds from the SC Department of Agriculture, for a total investment of $613,580.
The coronavirus pandemic highlighted the fragility of supply chains, with food not getting to grocery store shelves or getting there in short supply.
The South Carolina Food Policy Council -- an organization advocating for the production and consumption of healthy foods through education and strategic policy planning -- will be providing oversight for the network, and Wholespire will be managing the project.
Currently, the network includes local entities such as:
- SC Department of Agriculture for financial, programmatic, and marketing support
- University of South Carolina's Arnold School of Public Health SNAP-Ed Implementing Agency, providing administrative and food council support
- Wholespire, project management
- Bonita Global, LLC, providing outreach to African American communities, and women and minority owned businesses
- Alianza Latina of the Midlands, outreach to Latina communities
- SC State University Small Business Development Center, for technical assistance to food and farming businesses
- SC Food Hub Network, coordinated by Alison Pierce, to assist in expanding and sustaining local food in local markets
- Rural Resource Coalition as an organizer for gatherings, facilitating farmland working groups, and outreach to indigenous communities
- Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, also providing technical assistance to food and farming businesses
“Growing Local SC brings leaders together to create community-based solutions for a resilient food system for South Carolina,” said Project Director Nikki Seibert Kelley. “Local food systems are complex and highly place-based, making it essential for communities to build networks around the people working locally to get food from farms and gardens to the table.”
Groups and organizations interested in Growing Local SC are encouraged to join the South Carolina Food Policy Council -- basic membership is free -- and attend meetings and offer input to this new project.