MULLINS, S.C. (WBTW) — A new, statewide initiative kicked off in the Pee Dee on Thursday.

The program is called “Change SC” which aims to provide locals who live in food desserts with fresh, locally-grown food. Food desserts are areas that have minimal access to affordable, high-quality foods.

Miko Pickett, the executive director of the Pick 42 Foundation, says the food was harvested directly from local farms.

“Our farmers were picking collard greens yesterday. Today, it’s going in bags,” Pickett said. “There’s no grocery store that’s going to do that.”

Volunteers met in Mullins on Thursday, passing out more than 100 bags of freshly-picked collard greens.

Pick 42 serves three counties, Marion, Dillon and Marlboro. With “Change SC” in the mix, they will expand to Williamsburg County.

Pickett says Pick 42 serves communities where poverty is 24% and up, with 1-in-4 people living below the poverty line.

“With the money you have for groceries, you have to make it work,” he said. “You might go into the grocery store and buy processed mac and cheese, or oodles and noodles. That’s not the best food for us. It’s very, very high in sodium.”

Their purpose goes beyond providing fresh food. They also hold cooking demonstrations in their five community gardens.

Pickett even made it personal for News13 reporter Aundrea Gibbons, emphasizing the food dessert right in her hometown of Marion.

“If you live in Marion County, we don’t have a Whole Foods or Harris Teeter,” he said. “You’re going to pass two dialysis centers in Marion County way before you get to any kind of Whole Foods type of grocery store.”

The event will be held every Thursday at 11 a.m. at Mt. Olive Baptist Church.

* * *

Aundrea Gibbons joined the News13 team in May 2023 after graduating from Clemson University with bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and communication. Aundrea is a Marion native and graduated as salutatorian in 2019. Follow Aundrea on X, formerly Twitter, and read more of her work here.