FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) — As COVID-19 cases rise and affect the unemployment rates in the state, several organizations are concerned about food insecurity in the Pee Dee.
At Harvest Hope Food Bank, volunteers have worked tirelessly through the pandemic.
“Right now the national average is about 10% and we find that in Marion and Marlboro counties we are at 22% insecure and in Florence County we are at 17% and right now that is really climbing,” Executive Director Nicole Echols said.
Echols said since the pandemic they have held over 55 food drives and they also go to rural areas dropping off meals. Echols also said because of the pandemic unemployment rates, times have been made harder for families.
“They did not receive any income, not any unemployment, not any PTO, so during those first two or three weeks that they had to quarantine there was no income coming in the house and if they had no income, they had to pay rent and pay bills,” Echols said. “Food insecurity is really, really put to the forefront.”
According to the Feeding America organization, one in eight people in South Carolina struggle with hunger and one in six are children.
Executive Director of the American Heart Association Sheryl Love said the organization is bringing in people from the community and non-profit organizations to figure out how they can better address the food insecurity issue.
“It really takes everybody in the community to first realize the problem and then want to step up and do something about it,” Love said. “So that’s where we are in our process right now is identifying what is going to be — what we can make the biggest difference in.”