Government and Community Services
The Department of Government and Community Services was created to:
- Facilitate improved community outreach
- Administration of government services
- Resolution of community issues
To improve the quality of life for Richland County constituents through outreach, mediation, advocacy, strategic programming, and education.
Creating community, improving lives, and moving to excellence.
- Develop productive relationships with community partners throughout the County.
- Engage and involve the public in policies and practices that directly impact communities.
- Measure impact of initiatives through surveys, reports, and involvement.
- Effectively communicate accurate and essential information to all audiences in conjunction with the Public Information Office and other County departments.
- Serve as an outlet between the County and its constituents, customers, and partners.
- Help satisfy unresolved issues and work to continuously improve public involvement in the government process.
- Elected officials and local municipalities
- Individual voters
- Residential communities and homeowner associations (HOAs)
- Business community
- Higher education
- Other county organizations (K-12 schools, churches, millage and ordinance agencies, etc.)
Questions change everything in community engagement
Max Hardy - TED Talk (Click HERE to watch the TED Talk)
GCS Resource Guide
SC 2-1-1 serves as a safety net for all individuals needing help finding assistance, by helping improve the effectiveness and coordination of health and human services across the state. The statewide program provides information about and referral to health and human service resources. The service is available 24/7, 365 days per year. It is FREE and CONFIDENTIAL.
SC Legal Services’ Comprehensive Rental Assistance Program Guide
Wateree Community Action- Electric Assistance
Wateree Community Action- Water Assistance
SC Homeowner Rescue Program Information
What kinds of assistance does this program provide?
- Mortgage Payment Assistance
- Payment Assistance for Delinquent Property Taxes
- Mortgage Reinstatement
- Payment Assistance for Down Payment Assistance Loans
- Payment Assistance for Homeowner’s Utilities
- Counseling, Educational Services, or Legal Services
GCS Organization's of the Month (Archives)
February - Senior Resources
March - Sisters of Charity
April- Richland Library
May- Columbia Housing Authority
June- Homeless No More
July- Harvest Hope Food Bank
August - COMET
September- UWM Well Partners & Dental/Eye Clinic
November- Central SC Habitat for Humanity
December- Historic Columbia
February 2022- Reconciliation Ministries
March 2022- SC Dept. on Aging
June 2022- Pitch Inc
Government and Community Services (GCS) is a proactive outreach arm of the County. GCS focuses on facilitating improved community outreach, administration of government services, and the resolution of community issues. GCS recognizes an “Organization of the Month” that exemplifies the importance of supporting the community and assisting in getting resources to those most in need. This month’s organization of the month is FoodShare SC. GCS had the opportunity to tour their Richland County Hub and the site of a new teaching kitchen at 201 Columbia Mall Blvd Suite 109 in the County’s Northeast community. Additionally, FoodShare SC utilizes volunteers to pack their food boxes and Kim Humphrey, GCS Relations Associate, provided assistance at a recent packing day. To volunteer or gain more information about FoodShare SC contact the information listed below.
WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO
Many communities in South Carolina do not have access or financial resources to eat healthy daily. Barriers include where people live, age, income, and whether reliable transportation exists. Without healthy options, health risks increase. Bringing fresh produce into our communities is a form of food equity and is part of our mission. FoodShare's goal is to enhance the quality of life in our diverse communities by increasing access to fresh, affordable produce and providing quality cooking skills education.
WHO WE REACH
Founded in April 2015, FoodShare South Carolina has distributed nearly 84,000 Fresh Food Boxes from the main hub of operation in Richland County through June 2022. Working with additional non-profits across the state, FoodShare now operates distribution hubs in nineteen South Carolina counties to serve primarily rural communities.
To date, these hubs have sold & distributed more than 230,000 Fresh Food Boxes containing over 4 million pounds of produce, with more than 60% of the boxes purchased by SNAP EBT or provided to families using additional grants and donations. In 2019, FoodShare was recognized as an emerging evidenced-based intervention to improve food access by the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service and SNAP-ED program.
HOW WE SERVE
We envision a food system that nourishes all people in our State. South Carolina has a wealth of knowledgeable partners and organizations on which to draw upon as well as the experience to address the challenges that our communities are facing. We are partnering with our current member hubs as well as broader partners to address root causes of limited food accessibility and the lack of nutrition education.
In a state where diet-related chronic illness is so widely prevalent, we are making fresh produce and nutrition education a priority for our community.
THE FRESH FOOD BOX
The Fresh Food Box contains 9-11 varieties of top-quality fruits and vegetables. Unique recipes, tips and nutrition notes are included in each box to give participants the encouragement to expand their knowledge, cook new things and eat healthier. The Fresh Food Box is priced to be affordable for lower-income families, primarily those receiving SNAP benefits. Leveraging the Healthy Bucks program administered through the South Carolina Department of Social Services, families receive up to three times the cost of their purchase of fruits and vegetables when purchasing using SNAP/EBT.
VeggieRx is a fruit and vegetable prescription program designed to increase the intake of fresh produce for patients with diet-related diseases to improve health outcomes (measured in reduced A1C, blood pressure and weight levels).
Our Culinary Medicine program teaches nutrition science and culinary skills to medical learners and professionals at the University of South Carolina Columbia School of Medicine using a nationally accredited curriculum to help practitioners prescribe “food as medicine.”
NeighborShare connects people who lack transportation with volunteers who deliver Fresh Food Boxes directly to them.
Our Community Cooks classes are for anyone interested in gaining kitchen confidence, addressing their health through daily meal choices, or changing their diet because of a recent diagnosis. The classes are supportive of behavior change and understanding recipes to replicate at home.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
FoodShare South Carolina is a program of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia.
Richland CountyEmergency Rental Assistance
Richland County has resumed processing existing Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) applications Monday, March 28 for eligible applicants currently in the review queue. The current review process does not include new applicants.
Applications will be reviewed by application and priority status, in accordance with U.S. Treasury guidelines, for as long as funding is available.
Applicants: You are encouraged to monitor your email and be prepared to update your information in the participant portal here. For application assistance, please contact the County’s call center: 855-216-9198, or email the ERAP team: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are unable to open up the process to new applicants at this time. If you are seeking additional resources for rent or utilities, please see the resource guide listed below. Government and Community Services is ONLY available to assist with uploading documents for applicants that have previously applied for the program. You can also pick up a copy of the resource guide at the entrance to the Richland County Administration and Health Department buildings located at 2020 Hampton St, Columbia, SC 29204.
||Assistant Director of Government and Community Services
||Government and Community Services Relations Associate
To view Richland County GIS Mapping (Click Here)