Harvest Hope serves 20 counties in the state. (Photos by Ren Pusher/Carolina News and Reporter)

Every second Friday each month, Barbara Crawford, a 72-year-old Lexington County resident, wakes up early to receive a diabetic food box. 

“Because I’m only getting Social Security in supplements, when I get it, so it’s sort of like another salary,” said Crawford of the boxes she gets through the Brookland-Lakeview Empowerment Center. “I can use those food products for breakfast, lunch and supper, and even snacks. So it helps me tremendously.”

In 2017, Harvest Hope, an organization that works to eliminate food insecurity, partnered with the Lexington Medical Foundation and the American Diabetes Association to create a grant for a diabetic food pantry called D2 & Me Diabetic Food Pantry.

Dr. Angela Liese, an epidemiology and biostatistics professor at the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health, said if someone has diabetes and a limited income, they are more likely to select foods that aren’t healthy.

“And that’s a disaster for a person with diabetes because that leads to more weight gain, which is never good when you have a metabolic disease like diabetes,” she said. 

Harvest Hope identified a few agencies in Lexington County to distribute the boxes in communities with high rates of diabetes. The supplement box includes fruits, vegetables, dry beans, brown rice, oats, peanut butter, tomato sauce, canned tuna and more.

Cherilyn Washington, Harvest Hope’s Midlands branch agency relationship manager, said since the diabetic food boxes are grant funded, there is limited availability, and all the agencies don’t receive the boxes every month. 

Mission of Hope, one of the branches Harvest Hope identified to distribute the boxes, last received the boxes about four months ago, said Maria Castaneda, the organization’s data intake employee.

Castaneda said Mission of Hope only received 50 boxes each month that they distributed the diabetic food boxes. She said Mission of Hope distributed the diabetic boxes to those who were on their diabetic box list and ran on a “first come, first serve” system.

Liese said diabetes is metabolism compromising. She said it was important for people with diabetes to eat the right kind of foods after they take medications that lower their blood sugar.

Harvest Hope accepts donations. More information can be found on its website. 

Harvest Hope volunteers packing donations

The food bank delivers food boxes to numerous agencies for community distribution.

Harvest Hope also takes boxes as donations to place food in.

Cars line up outside one of the Lexington County’s diabetic food box distribution agencies.