FoodShare South Carolina has received approval from USDA Food and Nutrition Service to accept SNAP online for purchases of fruits and vegetables sold through its Fresh Food Box program. FoodShare SC is one of only a few community-based organizations in the nation selected to participate in the SNAP Online Purchasing program. The 2014 Farm Bill laid the groundwork to test the feasibility and implications of allowing vendors to accept SNAP benefits through online transactions stating “individuals who receive SNAP benefits should have the opportunity to shop for food the same way more and more Americans shop for food – by ordering and paying online.” FoodShare South Carolina, based in Richland County, launched online SNAP payment options on December 1, 2023, and will be adding the option to additional FoodShare partner hubs in its state-wide network in early 2024.
FoodShare believes that everyone deserves the opportunity to feed themselves, their families, and their communities with dignity and respect, regardless of where they live. The mission of FoodShare is to improve the well-being of South Carolinians by partnering with communities as they work to create opportunities that strengthen access to healthy, fresh produce.
“Food insecurity is a growing issue in our state,” says Omme-Salma Rahemtullah, FoodShare’s Interim Executive Director. “New USDA data indicates that the level of food insecurity in SC is higher than the national average. Access is integral to lowering this rate and the ability to order affordable produce online increases the options families have for buying nutritious food.”
“FoodShare has been a lifesaver for me as a participant with diabetes, allowing me to access affordable fruits and vegetables that have helped me better control my condition,” says Olivette Ford, a program participant.
Through bulk buying at wholesale prices, FoodShare’s Fresh Food Box provides an affordable way to eat healthy food. SNAP recipients in South Carolina are eligible for additional savings through FoodShare’s use of South Carolina’s “Healthy Bucks” program (www.schealthybucks.com), an incentive which allows SNAP recipients to obtain additional fresh fruits and vegetables when they use their SNAP benefits. The price of the 20-pound box (packed with 9-11 varieties of fruits and produce) allows SNAP recipients to stretch their household food budget, costing $5 if purchased with SNAP/EBT. The price is $20 if purchased with cash.
Launched in 2015, FoodShare South Carolina is a program of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia. FoodShare currently has non-profit partners in nineteen counties operating FoodShare hubs, distributing Fresh Food Boxes to their local communities.
FoodShare’s online platform was developed in-house with the support of Carolina Software as a Service and Forage Technology Corporation. Carolina Software as a Service (www.csaas.com), a minority-owned technology firm based in SC, began working with FoodShare in 2017, developing a customer/order management software platform to serve all FoodShare hubs across the state. Forage (joinforage.com) is a USDA-Approved EBT processor, dedicated to delivering seamless payment experiences for customers. The new ecommerce platform (snaponline.foodsharesc.org) integrates seamlessly with FoodShare’s primary platform to support the customer experience.
For an overview of the online purchasing process: (foodsharesc.org/foodsharesc-snaponline)