COPING WITH COVID: FoodShare South Carolina.

FoodShare South Carolina's mission has become even more critical.

The Columbia-based nonprofit has been delivering healthy fruits and vegetables to Midlands residents since 2015. But COVID-19 concerns that have shuttered area restaurants and closed state schools have made access to fresh produce more challenging while also threatening the produce supply chain the organization relies on.

In partnership with Senn Brothers Produce, based out of the S.C. Farmers Market, FoodShare SC brainstormed a solution: the Farmers2Neighbors program.

Through the initiative, customers purchase produce boxes, much like the ones FoodShare SC distributes through other, long-running community programs. Senn Brothers purchases the produces from local farmers and regional producers. It is then delivered to those who have placed orders and distributed from a central pickup point by neighborhood "captains."

In addition to helping ensure access to fresh produce as increased demand coupled with disappearing markets strains supply, Farmers2Neighbors allows S.C Farmers Market workers recently laid off to return to work boxing and delivering the produce. The program also provides a distribution outlet for farmers who have fresh fruit and vegetables in danger of going to waste.

"Our families are able to get produce, their workers are able to come back to work, and it's able to kind of serve as a safety net for both our community members and our supply chain during these uncertain times," said Michelle Troup, director of culinary medicine for FoodShare SC. "Not only is it a way for us and our community to support our supply chain workers during this time, not only is it a way to get produce into households, but it's a mechanism that we can use so folks aren't having to get out into the grocery stores and these places that might have larger groups of people.

"They're just going to their neighborhood captain their neighborhood association president, the lady they've known for years who lives down the street and picking up a box of produce."

Though in its infancy, the program has already generated interest, Troup said.

"The response has been pretty great," she said. "We have about 15 neighborhood captains who have signed up. They are folks in the community who have said hey, this is something I'm interested in and passionate about. I have the ability and the time and the space to be able to help. They are set up all across the greater Columbia area to be able to get a...

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