Tri-County Family Ministries is using Exchange Club grant funds to initiate a pilot program focused on health and wellness. Sixty clients with metabolic illnesses like diabetes and high blood pressure can now purchase $15 of assorted fruit, vegetables and herbs each week from Fresh Future Farm (FFF), a nonprofit farm and neighborhood grocery store located one half mile away at 2008 Success Street in the Chicora-Cherokee community of North Charleston.
Recent data has shown that South Carolina currently has the 4th highest rate of diabetes cases and the 8th largest number of cases of hypertension. Food deserts historically have higher rates of metabolic illness than communities with access to fresh groceries. "Residents living in food deserts also have a hard time finding foods that are culturally relevant and that meet their dietary restrictions (https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-food-deserts)."
Fresh Future Farm’s grocery store was established to resolve these challenges in a manner that will create more functional green spaces and quality employment opportunities in underserved areas.
These types of partnerships are critically important to at-risk individuals who rely on SNAP benefits to purchase food for their families as benefits often run out before the end of each month. FFF hopes this pilot program will lead to similar partnerships in the future. The nonprofit can create gift cards of any denomination for individuals or businesses interested in providing access to fresh food for Charleston Heights residents and commuters. The store reached $11k in total sales in its first three months of operation.