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Fresh produce boxes now available to students, staff at four local colleges and universities

The $5 boxes are distributed every other week and contain nearly 10 pounds of fresh produce.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Students and staff at four local college campuses now have access to boxes of fresh produce for just $5 as part of a new program to address food insecurity. 

FoodShare South Carolina is new program by the University of South Carolina School of Medicine. It launched Wednesday at the University of South Carolina, Allen University, and Columbia College. Foodshare will soon be coming to Benedict College as well. 

According to the national advocacy nonprofit, Swipe Out Hunger, one in three college students faced food insecurity. 

Food insecurity is defined by the USDA as a household that has "limited or uncertain access to adequate food."

Benedict College student Adrien Montalvo co-founded the campus food pantry more than a year and a half ago. She said she was surprised by the demand.

"We open twice a week, we see repeated students who we serve twice a week. We have served over 700 plus students," said  Montalvo.

Montalvo said according to surveys, Benedict students spend around $40 to $50 a week on food. 

"A lot of students have asked for fruits and vegetables, so then, seeing the initiative for the Foodshare box I think it's perfect because this is what student's have been asking for," said Montalvo. 

Newberry College's Campus Pastor David Coffman opened a food pantry two weeks ago after hearing there would be students who didn't know where their next meal would come from.

"Students have things that come up, they don't have a car and can't get snacks or food or other things from the grocery store or are unable to get a ride. Or we have commuters who don't necessarily have a meal plan," said Coffman.

RELATED: USDA awards $1.6 million total to five SC food providers

USC Law student and Foodshare volunteer Michelle Pappas said the boxes are distributed every other week and contain about ten pounds of produce. 

She received a box as well, and described it as "shiny and fresh".  

She added that 79 boxes were distributed on the first day.  

Columbia College Senior Zykeria Multrie was one of the students who took advantage. 

"It gives us a second chance to actually eat something healthy and not pick up the first bag of chips we see. Just to get some nutrients even if it's an apple a day," said Multrie.

Students can request a box from their campus Foodshare director every week.  

RELATED: Stuff-A-Bus registration underway for this year's holiday season; registration in Orangeburg ends Monday, Oct. 24

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