Rev. Dr. Nannette Pierson believes that vision, innovation, collaboration and cooperation are the ingredients needed to support and enhance the communities where we live and work. That is why this founder and director decided to open a food pantry upon her arrival to SC from NJ 15 years ago. In her words, “I began to meet too many children who did not have access to the healthy food they needed. What saddened me most was what I felt deep within my soul. These little ones had empty stomachs, but they were also missing that childhood “twinkle.” My only desire was to serve healthy food, water, and a renewed spirit to those I met. Why? Because hunger hurts, and hunger pains deny dignity and deplete energy and potential.”

    Dr. Pierson has displayed an impassioned and persistent effort to find a solution to the complex problem of ensuring that everyone has access to healthy food who may need it. The relentlessness she has shown in helping her community resulted in The Beaufort Housing Authority providing a safe and secure apartment at the Sandalwood Apartment complex. Miss Nannette, Doc. or Rev. as her clients call her, has provided food to those in need with the hope of silencing the pain that hunger brings. She embraced the opportunity to help her neighbors and go where no one seemed to want to go, and she began to help these neighbors in need one at a time.

    In 2009, she was given the keys to a community room at the Sandalwood Terrace Complex on Hilton Head Island by the Beaufort Housing Authority, and she fed neighbors in need. That very first day she served just five families with five volunteers. One year later, through the tireless efforts of her friends and volunteers, they were serving over 350 families. That same year, the Sandalwood Food Bank became a partner agency of the Lowcountry Food Bank and was USDA-approved six months later.

    Today, with more than 80 volunteers, Sandalwood serves over 1,300 people every month. They have always been a free-choice pantry, which means that neighbors can choose the food they want to take home. They opened their doors because they realized most of the neighbors they serve needed more choices in life than were available to them. Dr. Pierson wanted to be certain they gave them choices when it concerns what they put in their bodies to stay healthy. They provide local farm produce of every color and fresh fish, dairy, eggs, a variety of proteins, vegetarian meals, breads, along with basic needs and toiletries, detergents, paper products, diapers, clothing and so much more — to last the families they serve an entire week.

    Dr. Pierson said, “We know that God has a plan and we are ready and able to build a resilient pantry and finally have a place to call home so we can continue this mission of loving kindness to our neighbors in need. We do what we do because we know that people, much more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; but never thrown away.”

    This article was originally published in our 2023 Annual Impact Report. View the full report here.

    About the Lowcountry Food Bank: Feed. Advocate. Empower.

    The Lowcountry Food Bank serves the 10 coastal counties of South Carolina and distributed more than 42 million pounds of food in 2023. The Lowcountry Food Bank helps neighbors thrive by distributing food to nearly 240 partner agencies including on-site meal programs, homeless shelters, and emergency food pantries. The Lowcountry Food Bank advocates on behalf of those who experience hunger and helps empower people to make healthy and nutritious food choices. For more information, visit the Lowcountry Food Bank website.