The Robinhood Group established FoodShare Union in June 2021.
From January to August 2022 FoodShare Union County has sold over 2,000 boxes of fresh, locally grown produce to 175 residents and this is with taking the month of May off to move into our permanent location. Our program purchases most of produce from local farmers, who sell at the Union County Farm & Craft Market, which means we are also increasing the income of small, rural, farmers as well as providing ‘just picked’ items to our neighbors. Items not from local farmers are usually (bananas, apples, oranges, lemons). Most of our customers are SNAP recipients which enables us to help low-income families access fresh produce at a great price. SNAP recipients are able to purchase a small produce box for $5 and large for $10, the statewide Healthy Bucks SNAP Incentive program supplements the $10 balance. Each Fresh Food Box comes with a recipe flyer, on how to use the produce contents that week, in a different and often healthier way, prepared by SNAP-Ed, Elise Ashby or Dilia Mosquera (2022 Teacher of the Year at UCHS). Ms. Mosquera is a native of Colombia and works with us to introduce traditional Colombian dishes (made with local produce) to Union County. Additionally, as we add unfamiliar produce to the boxes, we provide tastings, at the Union Farm & Craft Market, which help our neighbors enjoy new fruits and vegetables, like butternut and spaghetti squashes, pumpkin, eggplant and kiwi.
Another exciting benefit of FoodShare is being able to help our neighbors and family members reduce illnesses. FoodShare South Carolina was awarded a five-year grant to improve South Carolinians’ access to fresh, healthy food as a foundational step to decreasing the impact of diabetes on the state. In Union County with a population is 27,316, the diabetes rate is 12.2%, 47% of adults are classifies as obese and we have a children poverty rate of 32%. In comparison South Carolina’s overall diabetes rate of 8%, 20% adult obesity rate and only 15% of children living in poverty, Union County is falling behind on these key health indicators. FoodShare Union County is providing a great service to the County, an awesome benefit to residents and increasing income for farmers and keeping revenue in the County.
In 2022 FoodShare Union has secured funding to provide Fresh Produce Bags for the UCSD’s 2,000 student households (funding from Executive Director, Elise Ashby); 900 Fresh Produce Bags for low-income residents (funding from Save the Children) and 5,000 Fresh Produce Bags for elderly residents (funding from AARP Community Challenge). Beginning in 2023 FoodShare Union along with FoodShare hubs in Greenville, Spartanburg and Williamsburg partnered with FoodShare SC and local medical facilitators to facilitate the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP) Veggie Rx prescription program to combat diabetes in the participating counties.