New map details hundreds of food pantries, resources available to South Carolinians

The food pantry at the Irmo nonprofit Sharing God’s Love has been even busier than normal this holiday season.
Published: Nov. 30, 2022 at 9:34 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 30, 2022 at 10:50 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - Organizations that fight hunger say food insecurity becomes especially evident this time of year, as families want to make the holiday season as special as it can be, but sometimes dollars don’t stretch far enough.

According to Feeding America, one in 10 South Carolinians face food insecurity, including one in seven children in the state.

The food pantry at the Irmo nonprofit Sharing God’s Love has been even busier than normal this holiday season.

“Everything is so much more expensive this year than in the past that the need is greater. We’re seeing a lot more children and families with children than we have in the past,” Executive Director Shari Selke said.

Fortunately, there are hundreds and hundreds of organizations and places that want to help South Carolinians get food on their tables.

But people might not always know what’s offered in their communities.

“A lot of them are located in churches or houses of worship, and if you’re not a member or don’t live in an area, you may not know it’s there,” DHEC Environmental Justice Director Keisha Long said.

So for the last two years, Clemson University and DHEC have been working on an interactive map designed to bridge those gaps.

It pinpoints food resources available in every county across the state, detailing where and when pantries are open, along with more specific information, like if any requirements are needed to receive food or if the pantry is focused on helping seniors or SNAP recipients.

Clemson initially started the project for people in the Upstate to help connect them with resources early on in the pandemic before expanding it statewide with DHEC’s assistance.

But nearly three years later, many South Carolinians still face that need.

“Of course, it’s a systemic, long-term issue,” Long said. “But it’s nice to know that there is a stop gap until things get better as opposed to just really doing without.”

Sharing God’s Love believes this map will help South Carolinians access resources in their communities and assist their work at the pantry.

“You can see the state and see where there’s great need for food pantries, but if you blow up our area too, you can find those food desert areas that we need to be aware of as a pantry so that we can be contemplating how to reach out to those places,” Selke said.

The map included more than 900 pantries and resources when it debuted in October, but that number has grown in the weeks since as they become aware of more sites, Long said.

People can find the food access map here.

The locations of resources not included on the map can be emailed to foodaccessmap@clemson.edu for organizers to review and potentially add.