Tag Archives: S.C. Department of Agriculture

‘Make Your Plate SC Grown’ for National Farm to School Month in October

By Amy Weaver, MSPH
SC Farm to Institution Director
Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity

Happy National Farm to School Month!

October was designated as National Farm to School Month by Congress in 2010 as a time to celebrate the importance of farm to school programs, which improve child nutrition, educate children on where food comes from and support the local economy.

In South Carolina, Farm to School is part of South Carolina Farm to Institution, which is a joint effort of DHEC, the S.C. Department of Agriculture, the S.C. Department of Education, and the S.C. Department of Social Services, as well as Clemson University.

South Carolina Farm to Institution encourages both children and adults to take part in celebrating National Farm to School Month. Join others across the state on October 27 and participate in Make Your Plate SC Grown. The purpose of this day is to celebrate South Carolina agriculture and support our local farms. Try a new dish or make one of your favorite recipes using South Carolina produce. However you choose to participate, share your story by registering online. Don’t forget to post a photo of your SC Plate on Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #mycertifiedplate.

Here are some additional ways to celebrate National Farm to School Month:

  • Visit a local farmers market or roadside stand.
  • Prepare recipes using South Carolina produce.
  • Visit a local farm.
  • Start a garden and refer to the South Carolina Garden Toolkit for tips.

To learn more about National Farm to School Month and South Carolina Farm to Institution, visit the website, www.scfarmtoinstitution.com.


Follow SC Farm to Institution on social media:

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WIC Honors National Farmers Market Week

DHEC’s Division of WIC Services joined markets across the country to celebrate National Farmers Market Week during the week of August 6-12.

As demand for local food continues to grow, so too have the opportunities for America’s farmers to market fresh food directly to the consumer.

Markets benefit farmers and customers

According to statistics recently released by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), farmers markets and farm stands account for roughly $2 billion of the $3 billion that Americans spend annually on farm-direct products. This revenue, in turn, supports the livelihoods of more than 165,000 mostly small and mid-sized farms and ranches.

“Farmers markets play a vital role not just in generating real income for farmers, but in forming healthy, prosperous food systems,” says Jen Cheek, executive director of the Farmers Market Coalition. “By providing the opportunity for farmers to connect directly with consumers, markets serve as education centers. Farmers are teaching customers about agriculture and sharing recipes and new foods with their neighbors. Markets are making people and communities stronger and healthier.”

Providing access to fresh fruits and veggies

The WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) is associated with the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, popularly known as WIC. The WIC Program provides supplemental foods, health care referrals and nutrition education at no cost to low-income pregnant, breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding post-partum women, and to infants and children up to 5 years of age who are found to be at nutritional risk.

The WIC FMNP was established by Congress in 1992, to provide fresh, unprepared, locally grown fruits and vegetables to WIC participants, and to expand the awareness, use of, and sales at farmers’ markets. This year marks the 25th Anniversary of the program!

During summer months, select public health departments participate in the WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program. The SC WIC FMNP has 249 authorized farmers.  DHEC and the S.C. Department of Agriculture encourage you to add more fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet. WIC participants receive checks that may be used for fresh produce at approved local farmers markets and farm stands. Participants also learn how to choose, store, and prepare fresh produce by attending nutrition education classes.  WIC Farmers’ Market checks may be used to purchase SC-grown, unprocessed fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

New recipes and farmers markets

Ready to try some delicious new recipes for your farmers market fresh fruits and vegetables?

Searching for a South Carolina farmers market?  Click here.

Meet the S.C. Farmers & Roadside Market App Team

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of a multidisciplinary DHEC team, South Carolinians this summer have been able to easily locate fresh fruits and vegetables with a click of a few buttons.

The S.C. Farmers and Roadside Market App – a free, interactive map that makes it easier to find and buy fresh produce locally— debuted in June.

Work group helped pulled project together

The successful project began more than a year ago with a work group that included representatives from various parts of DHEC, the S.C. Department of Agriculture, the S.C. Department of Social Services, and the S.C. Association of Farmers Markets.

As the partners began meeting, they identified the importance of not only developing a tool for the public but also maintaining an inventory of up-to-date information on the number of farmers’ markets and roadside markets in the state. A key detail was including information on those markets accepting food and nutrition assistance benefits, like SNAP/EBT, WIC and senior vouchers.

DHEC teams collected key information

The DHEC regional teams conducted 229 inventories—or visits and information gathering from markets and produce stands—throughout April, May and June 2015. This information was used to ultimately create the web-based app that shows the location, hours of operation and accepted payment types, including SNAP/EBT, WIC and senior vouchers programs for more than 200 farmers markets and roadside produce stands across the state.

Last month the regional teams completed the 2016 updates and collected information on even more markets statewide, said Teresa Hill, health eating consultant in the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity who leads the work group.

She said the work group and the teams on the ground used lessons learned from the 2015 inventory to improve this year’s collection and analysis efforts.

Susan Collier, a member of the Midlands Community Systems team in the Rock Hill area, worked in the field to collect information from farmers and served on the statewide work group. She said the project was a great example of teamwork.

“All of us worked in our communities to make sure we maximized our reach to be as inclusive as we possibly could,” she said. “I enjoyed it as a way to get to know the community in a different way than we’ve done before.” 


George Bush and Madie Orage-Green of the Lowcountry.

Many thanks to DHEC team members

Members of DHEC teams involved in the project from a regional level in 2015 and 2016 included: Kelsey Allen, Laura Long, Misty Lee and Page Rogers in the Upstate; Susan Collier, Janet Ellis, Elizabeth Gerndt, Jacquelyn Hughes, Linda O’ Neill, and Candra Riley in the Midlands; Deborah Dunbar, Regina Nesmith, Jessica Piezzo, Sara Price, and Reginald Scott in the Pee Dee; and George Bush, Sharon Crossley, Martha Dunlap, Brenda Hughes and Madie Orage-Green in the Lowcountry.

Members of the GIS team involved in the project were Phil Weinbach and Seth Church. 

Other members of the work group from DHEC included Kristian Myers, Susannah Small and Samantha Truman from the Office of Program Evaluation Services; Betsy Crick, Berry Kelly, Nakell Matthews, Rebecca Wrenn and Michelle Yates of WIC; Sandy Spann of SNAP-Ed; Robert Coaxum, Amy Curran, Harley Davis, and Khosrow Heidari of Public Health Statistics and Information Services; and Alyssa Renwick from the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity.

A special shout-out to all of these valuable DHEC staff for showcasing our core values of inspiring innovation and promoting teamwork!