FoodRX Program in South Carolina is Feeding the Body and Soul
FoodShare Greenville believes healthy food could be the best medicine for the body and soul. Every other Tuesday, volunteers for the South Carolina nonprofit assemble and distribute fresh produce boxes at drive-by locations in Greenville County. The produce boxes valued at $30 are offered at a discounted price to their neighbors facing food insecurity.
Noticing a correlation between access to healthy foods and chronic illnesses in the community, the organization expanded the FoodShare model in August 2022 when it launched the holistic FoodRx Healthy Eating Prescription Program.
“We offer more than a food box,” said Morgan Wilson, a We Raise Emerging Leader Grant recipient. “It’s an opportunity to be released from the constraints of food insecurity. When individuals make healthy choices, it impacts their families and it also relieves the burden on healthcare systems.”
Recent studies have indicated individuals who experience food insecurity are more likely to experience obesity, develop chronic conditions, and face higher healthcare costs. According to the Healthcare Costs of Food Insecurity report, an estimated $63 million was spent on additional healthcare costs associated with food insecurity.
In December 2022, We Raise awarded 26-year-old Wilson an Emerging Leader Grant for her hands-on work with FoodRx. She currently serves as development manager for faith-based Mill Village Ministries, which includes oversees the FoodShare program.
“The vision of We Raise aligns with FoodShare’s goal: to free people from the chains of inequitable systems that have left our neighbors in environments where they will not thrive without being provided the resources that they need,” said Wilson. “FoodRx recognizes the challenges our patients face and bridges the gap in the search for a healthier and fulfilled life.”
FoodShare partners with two medical clinics to offer the FoodRx program. Participants are screened for preexisting conditions and food insecurity. Then, they receive a voucher for a bi-weekly FoodShare produce box for 12 months as prescribed by their healthcare provider. Each box contains culturally appropriate fruits and vegetables, along with a recipe card in their native language, either English or Spanish, with ideas on how to utilize the produce items. In addition, participants have access to the “Fresh Out of the Box” cooking show—a virtual health education program to increase nutrition and cooking knowledge. After patients receive the free produce boxes for a year, they will be referred to instructions on purchasing a FoodShare box on their own.
To date, FoodRx has served 141 patients. Part of the $10,000 Emerging Leader Grant from We Raise will help increase the program’s reach to 1,000 families in low to moderate-income neighborhoods in Greenville County over the next two years.
“The grant will make a significant impact by allowing us to serve as the hands and feet of Christ to more people in the Greenville community,” Wilson said. “I’m also humbled, grateful, and excited that through this grant, I will also expand my leadership skills to grow as a servant leader through the resources that We Raise offers.”
Wilson’s passion to serve under-resourced communities stems from her relationship with God and indelible childhood memories of witnessing loved ones being impacted by poverty, food insecurity, and the rising cost of living in the Atlanta area.
“Growing up, I recognized that poverty did not discriminate against the people I loved,” Wilson said. “When we are ignorant to the issues that our neighbors are facing, we then become ignorant of the solutions. I have chosen to leverage the privilege that I’ve been given and become a catalyst for change. If I have resources to offer, then it’s my responsibility to use them to help strengthen our community.”
The generosity of We Raise donors empowers emerging leaders like Morgan Wilson to address food inequalities in her community with innovative solutions that equip families to make healthy lifestyle choices and leaves a positive impact on the overall community health.