We realize that fighting the enormous issue of hunger may come with many questions. How? Where? Lowcountry Food Bank has put together this collection of frequently asked questions to help address some of the more common inquiries we receive.

General Questions

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How does Lowcountry Food Bank get food to the people who need it?

Once Lowcountry Food Bank receives, inspects, and sorts food at either of our three regional distribution centers (Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Yemassee), our 230+ partner agencies distribute food to those who experience hunger. Agencies include faith-based food pantries, on-site feeding programs, residential facilities, and direct-service, non-profit organizations. Agencies are responsible for nearly 90% of total pounds of food we distribute, including fresh produce. Some agencies pick up food at the Lowcountry Food Bank for their distribution, or we may deliver food to them.

What geographic areas does the Lowcountry Food Bank serve?

Lowcountry Food Bank serves the 10 coastal counties of South Carolina, which covers about 9,000 square miles of the state. Our Northern region consists of Horry, Williamsburg and Georgetown counties. Our Tri-County region consists of Dorchester, Berkeley and Charleston counties. Our Southern regional facility serves Colleton, Hampton, Jasper and Beaufort counties.

How is food transported to our partner agencies?

Lowcountry Food Bank has a fleet of trucks, including 14 refrigerated box trucks, two 53’ refrigerated trailers, one 38’ refrigerated trailer, three tractors and four cargo vans. More than a dozen Lowcountry Food Bank professional drivers traveled 325,004 miles to deliver food in 2022.

Lowcountry Food Bank drivers pick up food from about 57 retail partners three to four times every week. Drivers pick up food from farmers during harvest season January through November.

Does the Lowcountry Food Bank provide mobile food distributions in the communities it serves?

To help provide equitable food distribution where it is needed, Lowcountry Food Bank also holds direct mobile food distributions in communities throughout coastal South Carolina to reach our neighbors who may not have access to a food pantry.

Does the Lowcountry Food Bank distribute fresh fruits and vegetables to people who are food insecure?

Yes! 42% of the food that Lowcountry Food Bank distributed in 2022, about 16.6 million pounds, was fresh produce. We focus on both the amount of hunger relief we provide and access to nutritious food. We strive to provide equitable access to food sources throughout the 10 coastal counties of South Carolina we serve.

What’s the difference between a food bank and a food pantry?

Food banks are nonprofit organizations that collect, purchase, and rescue donated food to feed individuals who experience food insecurity through the food bank’s community partners and agencies. The Food Bank is a distribution center where the food is gathered, sorted, inspected for safety, and then made available to agencies, community partners or food pantries. Food pantries are the partner agencies and churches that distribute food directly to their communities.

What’s most helpful to donate – food or money?

The best way to support the Lowcountry Food Bank is through financial donations or by hosting a virtual fundraiser. Monetary donations help provide the highest quality of food and create more meals for our neighbors.

What is food insecurity?

Food insecurity, as defined by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), is a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food. Hunger is an individual-level physiological condition that may result from food insecurity.

In 2022 in the coastal counties of South Carolina that Lowcountry Food Banks serves, the food insecurity rate was 9.6% of the population. Nearly 50% of the neighbors we serve are children and seniors.

Food & Fund Drive Questions

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What is the difference between a virtual fundraiser and a food drive?

A virtual fundraiser event is hosted online by an organization or an individual with the goal to raise monetary funds. A virtual fundraiser involves a nonprofit campaign or event that takes place entirely online or virtually, allowing supporters to engage with the Lowcountry Food Bank from anywhere to raise monetary funds.   

A food drive is defined as physically collecting food for people who are food insecure.

Why host a virtual food drive instead of a traditional food drive?

Did you know that a food bank purchases healthy and nutritious food at a much lower cost than the average consumer who shops in a grocery store? At Lowcountry Food Bank, we purchase fresh produce, meat and dairy items by the truckload. We can make your monetary donation go so much further than donated food items. When you host a virtual food drive, you are helping provide nutritious perishable food items that provide much-needed nutrition to those in our community who experience hunger. Our mission at Lowcountry Food Bank is not only to feed our community but to provide nutritious and healthy options.

Can I collect food items myself to support a specific program?

To make our programs the most efficient, we procure and purchase items pre-approved or recommended by the USDA and/or MUSC health dietitians. Because we try to feed as many people as possible, we purchase these items well in advance and in large quantities. Lowcountry Food Bank follows DHEC food safety laws, which help us maintain the integrity of our food supply. Learn more about collecting food items for Lowcountry Food Bank.

How can I make the most of my food or fund drive?

We offer several resources to help our supporters host a food drive. Below are links to guides, checklist and more.

What are the items that the Lowcountry Food Bank needs most?

These are the items that we need the most:

  • Canned tuna and meats
  • Low-sugar cereals
  • Baby food
  • Peanut butter
  • Whole grain rice, pasta and oats
  • 100% fruit juice
  • Low-sodium soups and stews
  • Canned fruits and vegetables

Does Lowcountry Food Bank provide collection boxes for my food drive and how do I get them?

Unfortunately, food drive boxes will no longer be available. In an effort to minimize our carbon footprint, we are asking food drive participants to reuse any sort of cardboard boxes you already have. Amazon or USPS boxes are most common.

Thank you for understanding and we hope this doesn’t cause too much of an inconvenience for you.

Charleston Facility

Upon arriving to our Charleston facility, please use the driveway on the right side of the building and go to the second bay door where you can ring the buzzer and someone will help you load supplies. When dropping off your donation, please bring your filled boxes back to this same location.

Myrtle Beach/Yemassee Locations

A member of our staff will be glad to help you at the main entrance to these locations.

Can Lowcountry Food Bank pick up my donation?

We greatly appreciate donations being brought to our facility, which allows our drivers to focus on delivering food to our neighbors in need. However, in the event that you cannot, we can schedule a pickup for a minimum of 500 pounds/canned goods. Please note that we need at least 5+ business days notice to schedule a pickup.

How do I get a receipt for my donation?

If you would like a receipt for your donation, it is imperative that you ask for and completely fill one out with a food bank employee when dropping off your donation. This ensures you leave with a receipt in hand and that we have accurate information to send you a thank you letter. The letter will also formally recognize your donation for tax purposes.

Who should I contact with fund drive questions?

If you have questions about hosting a fund drive, contact us.

Who should I contact if I have food drive related questions?

If you have questions about hosting a food drive, please contact us.