'Hunger is a reality, not just in this community, but in every community'

'Hunger is a reality, not just in this community, but in every community,' Lowcountry Food Bank CEO on new expansion

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - An increase in food requests have resulted in a brand new regional food distribution center coming to the area.

The Lowcountry Food Bank in partnership with Food Lion believes no one should have to choose between paying for dinner or rent or between gas and groceries.

According to the Lowcountry Food Bank in Horry and Georgetown counties, in 2015 there are around 50,000 food insecure people who don't know where or when their next meal is coming from.

The Lowcountry Food Bank is expanding its current operations in Myrtle Beach with an additional 20,000 square foot facility, located on Northgate Boulevard near Highway 17 Bypass.

It will enable better distribution of fresh produce, expanded cooler space to store fresh local, and healthy food and enlarged freezer space and will enable the food bank to distribute an additional 1.3 million pounds of food every year directly to families.

Pat Walker, President and CEO of the Lowcountry Food Bank, explained what she sees as a cause for food insecurity.

"Of course one is being underemployed and in this community, we have a lot of seasonal employment so when people are looking for jobs in the offseason it impacts their income and it impacts their ability to purchase food and pay rent and they are left with very difficult decision to make," said Walker.

Walker said their mission is to help fill the need, "Hunger is a reality, not just in this community, but in every community."

The new expansion wouldn't be possible without the deep-rooted partnership of decades with Food Lion and Wednesday morning, associates made a $300,000 donation toward the new facility.

"This is a great way to show and for us to feel being a part of the towns and cities, so it's an incredible donation we are making and an incredible investment we are making, not only with our dollars but with our people," Meg Ham, Food Lion President said.

Food Lion associates donated 25 pallets of food, packed and distributed to partner agencies to help fill the immediate need.

"There are 1 in 8 people in our communities who are food insecure, and sadly 1 in 6 children are food insecure and we believe those are our neighbors in need and we can do something about that," Ham said.

"Food Lion is willing to stretch out of that retail market and say you know what for people who don't have the availability to come into our stores and shop, we still believe that everyone should have food and that no one should experience not knowing where their next meal is coming from," Walker added.

Agencies like Salvation Army said they wouldn't be able to serve families in need if it were't for the Lowcountry Food Bank.

"Simply because we don't get a lot of donations the majority of our donations for whatever reason tend to come at the end of the year around Thanksgiving, Christmas that's when it's on people's mind to think there may be a need out there." Cassandra Kinard, the Salvation Army Social Services Case Manager explained. "We get a lot of single families or single moms who come in and their kids are at home all day, but there is no food, they can't afford it. We try to give them enough food to sustain them to get them through the end of the month."

In 2017, the Lowcountry Food Bank distributed more than 5 million pounds of food. Lowcountry's CEO encourages people to get involved at the new facility. Click here to find out how.

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