Food banks struggle to address South Carolina’s staggering food insecurity

South Carolina is above the national average for food insecurity and now, food banks are sounding the alarm.

HOPE of Rock Hill told Channel 9′s Almiya White they’re struggling to keep up with demand. The food bank is attempting to tackle food insecurity in York County.

“People just can’t afford the groceries like they used to -- they’re not making enough,” said Gordon Bell, the executive director.

Bell said within the last year, more families are scrambling to put food on the table.

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“We’re seeing about 250-plus to 275 families every week. And that’s equating to about 3,700 individuals to 4,000 individuals every week,” he said.

According to a new report from the Department of Agriculture, 17 million households nationwide were food insecure in 2022.

South Carolina is one of six states with food insecurity above the national average. Nearly 7% of York County struggles to afford food, and it’s even worse in surrounding counties, with 11.8% of families struggling in Chesterfield County.

“We saw a big increase during COVID, and it has only gotten worse,” Bell said.

Bell said witnessing the hardship weekly can even make it tough on those lending a helping hand.

“It gets emotional, even for our volunteers,” he said.

“It hurts on days that you can’t give them everything that they need,” volunteer Kevin Davis said.

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Davis said as he’s passing out boxes of food, he hears the stories of people having to decide between rent and something to eat.

“It’s absolutely a horrible time for some people because they’re working hard. And they still have to come to us to be able to survive and have a full belly,” Davis said.

Bell said they give out food four days out of the week. He said by the fourth day, it’s a limited supply due to the demand.

“There’s some days -- on Thursdays, which is our last day of the week, that we struggled to get people the food that they need,” he said.

“I didn’t think that it would ever be to the where we are today,” Davis said.

Despite the challenges HOPE of Rock Hill faces, the goal remains the same.

“Nobody in York County goes hungry,” Bell said.

Just this week, a family told HOPE of Rock Hill if the organization can raise $50,000, they’ll match them with that exact amount. If you are interested in donating, click here.

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