From the Director's Desk
Williamsburg County is the sixth-largest county by land area (934 square miles) in South Carolina. There are an estimated 30,368 citizens residing in the county, which creates exceptionally remote locations in certain communities.
One of the challenges in these remote localities is access to grocery stores. These secluded tracts are often referred to as food deserts.
According to the Economic Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), low-income tracts with a significant number or share of residents more than 10 miles from a supermarket or large grocery store are considered food deserts. Large grocery stores and supermarkets provide a selection of healthy food options, including fresh produce (fruits and vegetables). The lack of store access in these communities may contribute to poor diet, obesity and other diet-related illnesses.
Typically, discount/dollar stores are located in many food deserts, but most do not provide fresh produce and other healthy food items. Many of the food selections in these stores contain processed foods and foods high in sodium and sugar.
The USDA has created a Food Desert Locator, which highlights census tracts considered to be food deserts. According to the USDA Food Desert Locator, almost the entire southwestern corner of Williamsburg County is considered a food desert. This includes the entire towns of Greeleyville and Lane, and the Salters community.
We are seeking solutions to produce a “food oasis” for these areas in Williamsburg County. To help relieve the depravity created by these food deserts, citizens in various Midwestern states have collaborated to create community gardens. Other solutions will require a more complex economic development plan, which we have already begun to explore.