On Monday, August 30, 2021, tents and tables went up, and food pallets started stacking up in the Hazelwood Community of West Ashley in Charleston, SC. A diverse group of Charleston Police Department officers, new recruits, volunteers from the community, and representatives from AT&T, First Net, and the Columbia-based nonprofit Serve & Connect set up a mobile food box packing station in the middle of the Hazelwood neighborhood.
Serve & Connect collaborated with the City of Charleston Police Department to amplify the department’s community relations efforts by helping to plan and coordinate the mobile event. Serve & Connect also supported department by packing and delivering of Greg’s Groceries boxes in areas of need.
The mobile packing station packed more than 170 boxes that included non-perishable food items and information about the police department. The boxes, called “Greg’s Groceries,” are provided by Serve & Connect to police departments across the state to help individuals and families facing food insecurities.
The Charleston Police Department delivered Greg’s Groceries boxes to three communities throughout Charleston as a part of their ongoing strategic community relations outreach.
Master Police Officer Robert York, who works on the community relations team at the Charleston Police Department, explains that one of the main goals of the department partnering with Serve & Connect and Greg’s Groceries “is to bring food in the neighborhood for people in need and also to help bridge that gap and create some dialogue between the community and us.”
As boxes were packed in the community, officers went door to door and interacted with the residents in each neighborhood – having positive, friendly conversations. As officers left the Hazelwood community in their cars with boxes of Greg’s Groceries, officers stopped at every home on their way out of the neighborhood if someone was outside. An officer got out of the truck, spoke with the residents, and offered a box of Greg’s Groceries.
The overall goal of Greg’s Groceries is to provide a resource to police that may not otherwise be available. Greg’s Groceries boxes are intended to create opportunities for positive, non-enforcement interactions between police officers and community members while fostering an environment to enhance trust.
More than 1,500 boxes of Greg’s Groceries have been packed for distribution in the last 12 months. Since the program began in 2017, Serve & Connect is proud to have partnered with 33 law enforcement agencies across the state of South Carolina to help pack more than 85,000 meals.