(The Center Square) — A new analysis found 792,000 people across South Carolina lived in food-insecure households from 2020-22.
According to food insecurity data from the United States Department of Agriculture and analyzed by Hunger Free America, that represents 15.3% of Palmetto State residents. It also includes 19.1% of children in the state (216,725), 12.5% of employed adults (279,382) and 10.1% of older South Carolinians (140,563).
The organization said the cessation of the expanded Child Tax Credit and universal school meals led to the surge. The findings are in the group’s new report, “Hunger is Political Choice.”
“Our report demonstrates child and adult hunger are serious problems in rural, urban, and suburban areas of all 50 states,” Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America, said in a release. “This report should be a jarring wake-up call for federal, state, and local leaders.”
By comparison, the analysis found 13.2% of residents in neighboring Georgia were food insecure.
According to Hunger Free America, 22% of South Carolinians eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program were not receiving the benefit in 2018. WIC had the highest nonparticipation rate, with 59% of eligible people in the state not receiving WIC in 2021.
The South Carolina Food Security Council, which the South Carolina General Assembly established in 2023, is developing recommendations for steps the state might take to lessen food insecurity. The council will submit its report to the legislature by the end of January.
During its December meeting, the committee weighed 18 recommendations, tabling two and signing off on 16 for public comment until Jan. 2. Recommendations include expanding community garden programs, increasing the availability of fresh produce in variety stores, and creating a statewide organization to foster the implementation of the council’s findings.
The council also signed off on a recommendation to allow qualifying South Carolinians with felony drug convictions to be eligible for SNAP benefits. The committee also wants the state to consider increasing the gross income limit for SNAP benefits.