Lowcountry Food Bank (LCFB) held its fourth Agency Conference at NewSpring Church in North Charleston this month. LCFB procures, then distributes healthy food to nearly 250 partner agencies, including on-site meal programs, homeless shelters and emergency food pantries that give food-insecure neighbors in the 10 coastal counties of South Carolina direct access to healthy food. Although Covid caused a three-year scheduling delay, Agency Conference is typically held every other year.

LCFB partner agencies are the backbone of the organization’s business model and operations. Last year, LCFB partner agencies distributed 89% of the 40 million pounds of food distributed by LCFB, of which more than 30% was fresh produce.

LCFB’s Agency Conference provides its partner agencies and food pantries with best practices for food service, connects them with resources that enhance and support their operations and provides opportunities for professional development to help them best serve their communities. At the conference, agencies also gain a greater understanding of LCFB strategic initiatives that support equitable food access for Lowcountry neighbors and learn skills to further empower the food-insecure neighbors they serve through nutrition education.

Conference breakout sessions were chosen based on partner agency preferences and by LCFB to maximize the opportunity for agencies to best serve their neighbors: Succession Planning, Volunteer Recruitment and Retention, Elevate Your Impact, Empowering Environments, and A Road Map for the Future.

Keynote speaker, Dr. Tracy Bailey, provided an uplifting and inspirational address to conference guests to kick off the day. Dr. Bailey is CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of the Grand Strand and Founder and Executive Director of Freedom Readers. The conference included a special and thoughtful poetry performance by Marcus Amaker, Poet Laureate of Charleston.

“In addition to enjoying a fun day where our partner agencies can get to know each other, these agencies know best the unique and local communities they serve in the 10 coastal counties we serve, and they make decisions on what is best for their food-insecure neighbors.” said Nick Osborne, President and CEO of Lowcountry Food Bank. “By working with our partner agencies as one united voice, together we can break the cycle of hunger, address its root causes and help our community realize positive health outcomes. Through our partner agencies, we want to consistently demonstrate to our neighbors facing hunger that we understand their needs and support them.”

Food Lion generously sponsored the 2022 Agency Conference hosted at NewSpring Church.

Conference resource booths provided valuable industry and community information covering topics of interest for partner agencies: a demonstration of LCFB’s GIS Mapping technology, which strategically pinpoints where food assistance is most needed; nutrition information and food sampling; information about how to prevent food waste; LCFB’s sustainability efforts and efficiencies; opportunity for partners to provide feedback toward LCFB’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion initiative; opportunity to provide feedback on LCFB-administered feeding programs; a social determinants of health table, which outlined how the environments where people are live affect their health and quality-of-life, and an Advocacy table, where attendees can learn ways LCFB works to increase awareness about hunger issues and helps educate our community about social and policy issues that surround food insecurity.

LCFB held drawings and awarded prizes to partner agencies, including food gift cards for the neighbors they serve, a pallet jack to help distribute food, laptop computers, food pantry shelving, food carts, tents for mobile food distributions and more.

90 LCFB partner agencies were present at the conference with a total of 179 people in attendance. Many LCFB agency partners volunteer their time to help fight hunger in the Lowcountry.

Click here to learn more about Agency Relations. Organizations must meet specific eligibility criteria to quality as an LCFB Partner Agency and serve food to our neighbors who face hunger. Applications will be considered for 2023 in early 2023.