HUNGER ACTION MONTH
September is Hunger Action Month and we hope you will join ECCO as we stand together with Feeding America and the nationwide network of food banks to fight hunger. Most people don’t realize here in Charleston County we have a 14.9% food insecurity rate (55,390 food insecure individuals in the Lowcountry) which is sadly above the national average of 13.4%. According to the USDA website, “food insecurity refers to the USDA’s measure of lack of access, at times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members and limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate foods. Food-insecure households are not necessarily food insecure all the time. Food insecurity may reflect a household’s need to make trade-offs between important basic needs, such as housing or medical bills, and purchasing nutritionally adequate foods.”
At ECCO, we work with men and women each and every day who are faced with making the difficult choice between buying food, paying their rent, or purchasing their needed prescriptions. Research indicates the combination of stress and poor nutrition can take its toll on the long-term health of people living in both generational and situational poverty. According to Morgan Smith with Feeding America, “Diabetes is just one of many chronic diseases impacted by nutrition. Hypertension, congestive heart failure, kidney disease, and a litany of other illnesses all require adequate nutrition in order to be properly cared for (or prevented in the first place). Food insecurity complicates management of these diseases as well.”
This is where the holistic work and case management offered by ECCO makes all the difference. Our interactions with those we serve are about much more than simply providing people with food and clothing. We provide the basic needs, the medical and dental care, the education, and the personal attention necessary to help our neighbors in need improve their quality of life. Through our efforts to both challenge and support our clients, we are working to help them make healthy choices for themselves and their families.
This week ECCO will launch our Client Choice Wellness Pantry initiative to encourage a change in client behavior and lifestyle with elevated nutritional education eﬀorts and the increased availability of healthy food options. Moving forward ECCO’s Health and Wellness programs will establish a stronger connection between food distribution eﬀorts and health care services, an approach that will potentially result in long-term health improvements and reduced prevalence of clients with diabetes and other chronic diseases. I hope you will agree this is a cause worth fighting for and join us in the fight against hunger by stocking our shelves with more canned fruits and vegetables; lower sodium options including soups, gravies, and veggies; real fruit juices versus sugary drinks; whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and honey oats cereal; sugar-free puddings and jello; and nutritious snacks including nuts and organic yellow popping corn. These are the tools we need to help ensure all families east of the Cooper are able to fill their plates with nutritious options that provide the strength needed to work toward financial stability and to lower Charleston County’s food insecurity rate.
Stephanie M. Kelley
East Cooper Community Outreach