By Christina Lee Knauss
Columbia residents looking for ways to locate fresh, healthy food now have help thanks to a food access GIS (geographic information system) map created by the city and the Columbia Food Policy Committee.
Locations listed on the map include grocery stores, farmer’s markets, food pantries, FoodShare produce box sites and free summer meal locations for youth ages 18 and below.
The map can be found at https://gis.columbiasc.gov./
“We are excited to see technology being used for our citizens to make healthy choices,” said Mayor Daniel Rickenmann. “The Columbia Food Policy Committee has taken a great step to connect local businesses and our residents and create more positive health outcomes.”
The committee formed to address problems with food production, consumption, processing, distribution and waste disposal, with the primary focus on finding solutions to promote sustainability, economic development, and social justice in the food system of Columbia and surrounding areas.
District 1 Councilwoman Tina Herbert said the map comes at an important time because traditional grocery stores have closed in certain parts of the city, and grassroots organizations who have attempted to fill the food void have not been able to get the word out about their services because of budget constraints, leaving many of their services under-utilized.
“The map created by the Food Policy Committee will help more people to the healthy food options that are available in the community,” Herbert said.
The Committee collaborated with DHEC, Foodshare SC, Harvest Hope Food Bank, the state Department of Education, Central Midlands Council of Governments, Richland School District One and the city’s GIS Department to create the map, according to Shane Catoe, chair of the Food Policy Committee.
The map will be updated throughout the year, and citizens and organizations are encouraged to include food accessible sites by emailing information to the Columbia Food Policy Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.