There are many different ways to know the coming of each season. We know summertime is here when the days are longer and hotter, mowing the lawn becomes a weekly pastime, everyone starts talking about their vacation plans and kids are home from school and plundering the kitchen cabinets for snacks all day long.
At Harvest Hope we know summertime is truly here when the waiting room in our Emergency Food Pantry starts filling to capacity first thing in the morning – everyday. We know it’s summer when the line of hungry people outside our buildings at Shop Road and 12th Street in Cayce stretch down the sidewalk, and we jump from providing food to 600-700 people a day to over 1,100-1,200 people a day. We know it’s summer when our agency partners need more food because their pantries are running out. We know it’s summer when we start seeing more families and more children at our doorsteps.
The first two days after Memorial Day we were greeted by long lines outside the EFP and saw so many faces of hunger at our doorstep before we could even open. We served over 850 families in two days. We know summertime is here and we know it is going to be long and difficult for so many families.
South Carolina is second in the nation for families suffering from food hardship, with 24% of our population struggling to pay for food. This summer families will struggle to replace the school meals that normally provide nourishment for their children. Seniors will struggle to manage paying for their medication and housing expenses. Working mothers and fathers will wonder what they can do to make sure they have a roof over their heads and reliable ways to get back and forth to their jobs while they worry if they will even have a job tomorrow.
To meet the needs of all of them, of everyone struggling with hunger from the Pee Dee, through the Midlands and up to Greenville and Laurens Counties, Harvest Hope needs to distribute over 5 million pounds of food in June, July and August. We know we cannot do it without help from compassionate souls in our SC communities, and we are blessed to have help from community partners who have helped us find innovative ways to make donating easier.
Wells Fargo is a very special sponsor giving the South Carolina Food Bank Association a challenge grant of $150,000 split between all of the 4 food banks if we can match it prior to June 15. This is very important and you can make your donation double by taking just a minute right now to make a donation at http://scfoodbankassociation.org/.
Other ways to easily help would be to visit a Corner Pantry station for gas or a snack, please also consider spending $1 or $5 and complete an "I HOPE" card for Harvest Hope. This promotion is going on right now and throughout all of June at all 32 Corner Pantry filling station locations are selling our HOPE Floats mission cards. You can visit their stores in Columbia, Chapin, Lexington, Hartsville, Irmo, Manning, Orangeburg, Sumter and West Columbia and after filling up stop in to make an easy $1 to $5 donation by buying a HOPE Floats card and leave a simple message of your Hope. Last year this wonderful partnership gave us the means to provide over 23,000 meals to the hungry in our community, and with your support we hope to see an even greater result this June.
Most long-time Greenville residents are familiar with The Clock drive-in restaurants, which have been serving up great diner style local fare for decades. The location on White Horse Road has pitched in to help feed hungry families in the Upstate by selling HOPE Floats cards, so plan to cruise past and show your support when you’re in the area.
As summer is a time for families and family activities, Harvest Hope is proud to partner for the third year with Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens for Toucan Tuesdays. Every Tuesday this summer, two can visit Riverbanks for the price of one with a donation of two cans of non-perishable food to Harvest Hope. Toucan Tuesdays will run for 12 consecutive Tuesdays throughout the summer, ending on August 28.
Riverbanks Zoo visitors donated nearly 2,000 pounds of food during last year's Toucan Tuesdays campaign, which helped provide meals for those struggling to feed their families. This summer we’re hoping that visitors will enjoy the many attractions at Riverbanks Zoo and double that amount!
We are more than thrilled to enter our second summer partnering with ABC Columbia and McDonalds for the ABCs of Hunger. Be sure to watch any ABC Columbia newscast for information and updates on the food drive, and drop off canned good donations at any of the McDonalds restaurant locations in Columbia.
This is also the time of year for Harvest Hope’s EXTRA Mile Campaign. The EXTRA Mile Campaign is our summer hunger relief program and offers a simple way for everyone to go the extra mile to help others during the summer months. All we ask is for everyone to skip a lunch just once a week until August 31 and donate the equivalent of a day’s lunch money to the EXTRA Mile Campaign. For example, $10 a week for 12 weeks would be $120, which would provide over 540 meals for a hungry family.
Take thirty seconds to think about someone who skips a meal not because they choose to or because it might be convenient but because the food is not there and they do not know where their next meal will even come from. Try to put yourself in that mindset for just thirty seconds, and then realize that’s the reality many people in South Carolina face every minute of every day.They fear there will be no food on the table at each meal and wishing will not change that.
If someone needs help putting food on their table – no matter where they may live in South Carolina – then they are a part of our community and we must find a way to help them. We must put food on their tables.
We are so grateful to so many community partners who provide many, many ways to donate to Harvest Hope. You can help us make sure we find the means to feed the hungry as summer begins.
Best wishes to you and your loved ones and thank you for all you do to help others,