COLUMBIA, S.C. — The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has granted $1 million in funds to two South Carolina organizations working to improve dietary health and nutrition in their communities. The grants are part of the $8 million available nationwide through the USDA's American Rescue Plan and will be administered through the organization's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
Columbia-based FoodShare and LiveWell Greenville will each receive $500,000 for their efforts to bring fresh produce to their surrounding communities.
LiveWell Greenville coordinates the Produce Prescription Initiative, connecting those experiencing food insecurity with fresh produce via FoodShare Greenville. Through the program, produce boxes containing approximately 15 pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables are distributed every two weeks to 440 new families, while Prisma Health Systems in the Upstate routinely screens these new patient/clients. The clients would receive the produce boxes for up to 12 months and then offered the opportunity to continue receive the boxes through FoodShare Greenville by using SMAP benefits along with SC Healthy Bucks or by paying out of pocket. These funds would become available on September 15, 2022, through September 14, 2025.
In Columbia, the impact of FoodShare's Veggie Rx model -- a program that tries to build a strong bridge between medical providers and the FoodShare statewide food access network -- will be studied and evaluated. Patients diagnosed with prediabetes or diabetes living within one of four targeted counties will be referred to their local FoodShare hub. Patient participants will receive fresh food boxes twice per month -- for free -- for six months, and clinical labs will be taken in the first and sixth months. FoodShare will partner with the SC Hospital Association Foundation to track results and implement a scalable model for delivering a produce prescription program. Funds become available for this project on September 15, 2022, through September 14, 2024.