Holiday season for Lowcountry Food Bank

Employees of the Hendrick Automotive Group load boxes with Thanksgiving dinners at the Lowcountry Food Bank on Monday, November 13, 2017. A new refrigerated food truck will allow the organization to deliver more than 400,000 meals in 2018. File/Brad Nettles/Staff

A new refrigerated food truck will allow the Lowcountry Food Bank to deliver more than 400,000 healthy meals to area families in 2018, a representative of the hunger relief agency said.

The Lowcountry Food Bank recently completed a $130,000 fundraising campaign to purchase the truck, the 15th in its vehicle fleet. While the truck is not designed to double as a mobile food pantry, spokeswoman Jill Hirsekorn said reliable transportation is critical to supplying partner agencies that operate distribution sites in 10 coastal counties.

“(It) will travel more than 120,000 miles in 2018,” Hirsekorn said of its planned itinerary, stressing the 24-foot truck’s service to the region’s “most vulnerable” members.

Additionally, the truck will enhance the food bank’s capacity to pick up donated goods and furnish food for its “Fresh For All” events, which are structured like pop-up farmers markets.

Freighting food became a leading concern for hunger relief organizations in the 1980s, when the scope of economic distress and cutbacks in federal funding forced U.S. charities to rethink the longstanding informal pantry model.

“Prior to 1980 ... pantries were typically a shelf in a closet of the pastor's study," Janet Poppendieck, senior fellow at the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute, told NPR’s "The Salt" this summer.

Within a decade, local programs across the country were banding together on a regional basis to invest in warehouses and delivery trucks. Founded in 1983 to support an existing network of soup kitchens, Lowcountry Food Bank in 1990 fully embraced the central hub model and adopted its current name.

According to the NPR story, the next phase of food banking is likely to involve more emphasis on the root causes of hunger and preventative measures to address them, with fewer resources being devoted to distribution logistics.

Since the advent of modern food banks, food insecurity has remained relatively steady. About 12 percent of American households “lack access to enough food for an active, healthy life for all members,” according to the federal government.

Feeding America this fall released data showing 15.3 percent of South Carolinians are food insecure.

Reach Hanna Raskin at 843-937-5560 and follow her on Twitter @hannaraskin.

Food editor and chief critic

Eating all of the chicken livers just as fast as I can.