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Catholic Charities of South Carolina | Setting a new standard with its food pantry

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MISSION | Inspired by the Holy Scriptures, Catholic Charities of South Carolina promotes self-sufficiency and strives to break the cycle of poverty in South Carolina by serving our neighbors in need.

FOUNDED | March 15, 1945, in Charleston

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Pallets of fresh fruits and vegetables, coolers with meats and fish and shelves of other necessities sit ready for residents to start pouring in.

About 500 residents a month rely on this free, healthy-focused pantry in Conway to put food on the table for their families. Many are on fixed incomes – they can pay the rent and utilities but don’t have enough money left to buy food. Others are in between jobs. Some work in the hospitality industry and are trying to make it through the off-season lull.

A partner with Tidelands Health, Catholic Charities of South Carolina operates the pantry as one of the many ways it works to provide basic services to residents in the 10-county Pee Dee region that includes Georgetown, Horry and Williamsburg counties. It also provides necessary dental services, showers for the homeless, relief after natural disasters such as hurricanes and more.

The food pantry is one of the agency’s most popular services. The program is expected to expand this year with the addition of a mobile pantry serving the same kinds of fresh, healthy foods offered in Conway but now taking them to the needy in Georgetown and Williamsburg counties.

A volunteer helps each client pick the best foods to meet his or her needs and provides recipes to help the client make the best use of the produce and fix a healthy meal.

Catholic Charities is one of about 25 partners in the Tidelands Community Care Network, which was created by Tidelands Health in partnership with Access Health SC and The Duke Endowment. The network is comprised of health educators, state agencies, transportation providers, primary and specialty care providers and others who can help uninsured residents have access to medical care.

“The services Catholic Charities provides – including food for the needy and shower facilities for the homeless – make such a difference in our coastal community,” said Kelly Kaminski, director of community health resources for Tidelands Health. “Just look at the impact the agency’s focus on fresh fruits and vegetables in the pantry is having – it helps meet basic needs while emphasizing the importance of healthy eating habits.”

In addition to the pantry, the agency works to give dignity to the homeless, life skills to families and relief and recovery to residents affected by hurricanes and other natural disasters.

It helps meet basic needs of the homeless with its Clean of Heart facility off Mr. Joe White Avenue in Myrtle Beach, where individuals can take a shower and have their clothes washed. It also helps arrange for needed dental services for residents and helps pregnant women prepare to be mothers.

The agency responds after natural disasters such as hurricanes, providing immediate relief with food, water and other necessities and long-term help by working with contractors to repair and rebuild homes. Work continues on houses affected by Hurricane Florence.