What do you know about food insecurity?

Are people going hungry in Pickens County? Based on requests for United Way funding, calls from neighbors in need, and antidotal stories about hungry children, we would conclude, yes, hunger or “food insecurity” is an important issue in Pickens County.

How do we really know?

In July 2018, Clemson University named Dr. Leslie Hossfeld as Dean of the College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences. Her field of expertise? Food insecurity! As a new resident of the upstate, Dr. Hossfeld also wanted to understand the needs of her community.

It was only logical that Clemson University and United Way of Pickens County would join forces to conduct an extensive community- wide food insecurity study in Pickens County. Under the leadership of Dr. Catherine Mobley, a leading professor in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice, a research team is conducting focus groups this summer, creating maps to document areas of need and service provision, and administering surveys to individuals who access current food resources. The research team is also interested in learning how organizations throughout the county, including churches, are serving residents who are experiencing hunger and food insecurity.

Why is this important?

According to Dr. Mobley, research shows that food insecurity among children negatively affects overall health such as iron deficiency anemia, acute infection, chronic illness, and developmental and mental health problems.

U.S. adults living in food-insecure households consume fewer weekly servings of fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. They also consume lower levels of micronutrients and this is linked to the development of chronic disease, including hypertension and diabetes.

Any Pickens County resident interested in food insecurity is encouraged to participate in this important research study. In addition, if your agency or church provides any programs, services related to hunger, or food insecurity, the research team would like to hear from you.

As of the date of this article, confirmed focus groups are June 13 at Soapstone Baptist Church from 11 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., June 21 at the Kimberly Hampton Library in Easley from 12-2 p.m.

Pickens County residents are encouraged to participate in focus groups. For more information or to volunteer and to provide information for the community inventory, contact graduate student intern, Cassius Hossfeld, by email or by calling 910-233-2571.

By Julie Capaldi

For The Sentinel-Progress

Reach Julie Capaldi at 864-850-7094.

This article was originally published in the Sentinel-Progress on June 7, 2019.