By Samantha Lyles
Food insecurity for children and senior citizens remains a troubling problem in America, even during prosperous times. During the COVID-19 pandemic and its accompanying economic woes, the problem has grown even worse, but there are good people out there trying to help.
Every Tuesday morning, workers from the Darlington County Council on Aging man four sites around the county and spend the morning giving away boxes of non-perishable food to seniors in need. These emergency rations can contain a variety of items, like canned meats, soups, grits or oatmeal, peanut butter, fruit cups, packets of pasta or rice, and tasty snacks.
“Each box will have a bunch of different items in it, but it’s all dried or non-perishable food,” said Sonya Robinson, coordinator at the Brunson-Dargan Elementary School site in Darlington.
This food giveaway started around May, when seniors were really getting worried about going out in public, even for crucial errands like grocery shopping. For senior citizens with health conditions, this fear was far greater, and so the Council on Aging stepped up to organize these emergency food pick-up sites.
“During COVID, seniors have felt restricted and unable to get out and go to the grocery store and things like that, so we are trying to help them. Our giving has increased each week, so the services are still needed,” says Council on Aging director Jackie Anderson.
Receiving a box of food is pretty simple: Any Darlington County resident age 60 or over can drive up to the site and present state-issued photo identification; workers wearing personal protective equipment will register their information and deliver the food to their vehicle. One box will be given to each individual senior who registers, with a limit of two per vehicle. The food boxes are given away on a first-come, first-served basis and will be offered until supplies run out.
If a senior is unable to get to a distribution site in person, they may send a family member or caregiver with their ID to pick up food in their stead. Each registered senior is limited to one free box of food per week. Food box giveaways are staged at the following sites:
Darlington, Brunson-Dargan Elementary School, 400 Wells St.
Hartsville Senior Center, 1103 S. Sixth St., Butler Building
Lamar Nutrition Center, 628 Cartersville Highway, Robert L. Grooms Building
Society Hill Nutrition Community Center, 223 Hall St.
The food donation boxes come from Golden Corral of Lexington, N.C. Anderson says this giveaway program should continue into August.
Please note that the food box giveaways may be canceled and rescheduled due to rain. For further information, visit the Darlington County Council on Aging Facebook page, or call 843-393-8521.