Increasing access to healthy food

Several Upstate groups teamed up to provide hundreds of healthy meal boxes for people in

Several Upstate groups teamed up to provide hundreds of healthy meal boxes for people in Spartanburg County.The volunteers at Ruth’s Gleanings included people from United Healthcare and Denny’s. They spend their morning at Ruth’s Gleanings’ distribution facility.Each box slid across a conveyor belt, before being loaded onto a truck. The foodshare boxes are filled with healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables.The produce is purchased from local farmers and distributors. “For instance, today in our food boxes we have cucumbers grown specifically for us, for our food share boxes at the Charles Lea Center,” said Tonja Smith, the founder and executive director at Ruth’s Gleanings.Smith said what’s inside of the boxes represents more than just food, as they work to get healthy food to those who need it. “So what we are doing is trying to break down some of those barriers so they do have good access to food that is the most healthy for them,” said Smith.Typically around 250 to 500 foodshare boxes are packed every two weeks before being distributed around the county, according to smith.The nonprofit had been using a refrigerator trailer to deliver boxes; however United Healthcare purchased a new refrigerator truck for Ruth’s Gleanings. “It makes our jobs a lot easier logistically but also triples the capacity to haul the boxes,” said Smith.The new truck was purchased with a $70,000 grant from UnitedHealthcare’s Empowering Health grant.”This donation to Ruth’s Gleanings is part of UnitedHealthcare’s $300,000 in Empowering Health grants allocated in South Carolina this year. This year’s Empowering Health grants, totaling $11.4 million nationwide, are focused on expanding access to care and addressing the social determinants of health in underserved communities,” according to a release. “We are really committed to our communities and providing access to healthy foods, especially in food deserts is something we are focused on and committed to,” said Jack Shields with United Healthcare. The foodshare boxes can be pre-ordered. Smith said it cost $15 cash or $5 using a SNAP card.

Several Upstate groups teamed up to provide hundreds of healthy meal boxes for people in Spartanburg County.

The volunteers at Ruth’s Gleanings included people from United Healthcare and Denny’s. They spend their morning at Ruth’s Gleanings’ distribution facility.

Each box slid across a conveyor belt, before being loaded onto a truck. The foodshare boxes are filled with healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables.

The produce is purchased from local farmers and distributors.

“For instance, today in our food boxes we have cucumbers grown specifically for us, for our food share boxes at the Charles Lea Center,” said Tonja Smith, the founder and executive director at Ruth’s Gleanings.

Smith said what’s inside of the boxes represents more than just food, as they work to get healthy food to those who need it.

“So what we are doing is trying to break down some of those barriers so they do have good access to food that is the most healthy for them,” said Smith.

Typically around 250 to 500 foodshare boxes are packed every two weeks before being distributed around the county, according to smith.

The nonprofit had been using a refrigerator trailer to deliver boxes; however United Healthcare purchased a new refrigerator truck for Ruth’s Gleanings.

“It makes our jobs a lot easier logistically but also triples the capacity to haul the boxes,” said Smith.

The new truck was purchased with a $70,000 grant from UnitedHealthcare’s Empowering Health grant.

“This donation to Ruth’s Gleanings is part of UnitedHealthcare’s $300,000 in Empowering Health grants allocated in South Carolina this year. This year’s Empowering Health grants, totaling $11.4 million nationwide, are focused on expanding access to care and addressing the social determinants of health in underserved communities,” according to a release.

“We are really committed to our communities and providing access to healthy foods, especially in food deserts is something we are focused on and committed to,” said Jack Shields with United Healthcare.

The foodshare boxes can be pre-ordered. Smith said it cost $15 cash or $5 using a SNAP card.