The Daily Gamecock

Charleston-based food delivery service expands to Columbia, looks to support local farmers, food equity

Community Supported Grocery, a Charleston-based local food delivery service, has expanded to Columbia to bring locally grown food to the Midlands.

The service expanded into the Columbia area in June 2023 after years of discussing the need for delivered fresh produce here. It was founded in 2018 as an extension of Low Country Street Grocery, a mobile farmers market providing produce for low-income and low-access neighborhoods. 

"We're really excited to be in Columbia. We've had amazing feedback, and we have felt so welcomed as the new kids in town," said LauraKate McAllister, the company's sales and marketing coordinator.

Community Supported Grocery was created because Low Country Street Grocery saw the need for a home delivery service to make local food more equitable and accessible, said Shaunda Fifer, the company's sales and marketing manager.

"One of the biggest perks (is) you kind of do it all online, and its delivered to your home or to your office," Fifer said.  

A goal of the organization is to provide support not only for local farmers by boosting their sales, but for their customers as well, Fifer said.

The company aims to give everyone access to fresh, healthy food by sourcing from South Carolina farmers, McAllister said.

"We're definitely just really all about creating sustainable food systems and just making sure that we're exposing people to local produce, supporting our local farmers and just really honing in on food equity," McAllister said. 

Andrew Berns, an associate professor in the history department at USC, started ordering from the delivery service in fall 2023 after hearing about it from a local friend, and he receives a box every week. 

"They're punctual. The quality of the produce is extremely high. It is affordable given how convenient it is and how high the quality is," Berns said.

Berns said that while customers receive a set amount of produce each week, they can also select specific items to add onto their selection when they order — a feature that sets the service apart from others around the country.

"One objection that people typically have (with Community Supported Agriculture), as they're called, throughout the country is you don't know what you're going to get, and there's no choice," Berns said.

Community Supported Grocery preserves the element of surprise, but it also allows customers to convey what they want with "shopping add-ons," Berns said.

"It's good for the health of whoever's eating the food. It's good for the environment and ecology of South Carolina because it keeps produce local, and it discourages sending apples from California to South Carolina, for example. And it's also really good for the economy of our state and the region," Berns said. 

 McAllister said the company is hoping to connect with more customers this year, including USC faculty and staff since the campus falls within its delivery range. 

"We're just excited for another year of growth in Columbia and reaching more customers, supporting more farmers and just furthering our mission," McAllister said. 

Community Supported Grocery delivers throughout the week on certain days according to users' locations, and it will send an email detailing its drop-off time.

Customers can sign up for a delivery on the service's website.