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FoodShare South Carolina part of multi-million dollar initiative to reduce impact of diabetes in South Carolina

Posted Aug. 7, 2020 | By Alyssa Yancey,

FoodShare South Carolina, an initiative of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia, has been awarded a five-year grant to improve South Carolinians’ access to fresh, healthy food as a foundational step to decrease the impact of diabetes on the state. 

The BlueCross® BlueShield® of South Carolina Foundation awarded a total of $11.6 million to four organizations as part of Diabetes Free SC, a new long-term, multi-million dollar initiative dedicated to addressing diabetes, its complications, and related health disparities statewide. Diabetes Free SC has three strategic directions: improving pregnancy outcomes in women with diabetes, reducing lifelong risk of diabetes in children, and preventing diabetes and its complications in adults.

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), more than 500,000 adults in South Carolina have diagnosed diabetes, while 120,000 others have the disease but have not been diagnosed. Diabetes greatly increases risk for heart disease, stroke, amputation, kidney failure, and blindness. Furthermore, well over one million people have ‘prediabetes,’ a condition where blood sugar levels are too high, but not in the ‘diabetic range.’ Even prediabetes doubles the risk for heart disease. This year alone, 26,000 more people in South Carolina will be diagnosed with diabetes. Diabetes imposes a heavy burden on all communities in our state, but African Americans are the most severely affected, both by diabetes itself and by its complications.

Recognizing that a healthy diet is essential for the prevention and management of diabetes and its complications, Diabetes Free SC will support FoodShare South Carolina to expand its reach and ensure access to healthy fresh fruits and vegetables for all South Carolinians. The program offers nutritional resources and skill-building opportunities through its four primary initiatives: Fresh Food Boxes, Culinary Medicine, NeighborShare Delivery, and Good Food Markets.

“At FoodShare we believe access to fresh, affordable food should not be limited by where a person lives or by how much they earn; and that food has the power to change the trajectory of someone’s life,” says Beverly Wilson, co-founder and executive director of FoodShare South Carolina. “We are thrilled to be able to expand our services with the help of Diabetes Free SC and have a positive impact on even more South Carolinians.”

FoodShare South Carolina is the leading organization working to increase affordable access to fresh food for people who struggle with hunger in South Carolina. Currently, FoodShare has partner hubs in seven South Carolina communities, and now will undertake significant expansion. To date, the hubs have sold and distributed 71,000 Fresh Food Boxes containing over 1.2 million pounds of produce, with more than 60% of the boxes purchased using SNAP EBT benefits. In 2019, FoodShare was recognized as an emerging evidenced-based intervention to improve food access by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service and SNAP-ED program.

Diabetes Free SC is a new program implemented by BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina  and the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation. It is charged with confronting diabetes to benefit the whole population of South Carolina, with a special emphasis on the underserved and minority communities. In addition to FoodShare South Carolina, Diabetes Free SC has recently funded new programs at Prisma Health to improve pregnancy care for women with diabetes, and at the Medical University of South Carolina and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation to reduce children’s risk of developing diabetes later in life. 

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