South Carolina public assistance.

Residents in South Carolina may be able to get help from the public assistance programs referenced below. Most of the resources can address a struggling or lower income families basic needs, such as food. In addition, most of the government programs listed below and by county can also direct individuals to other social services and non-profits that operate in South Carolina.

South Carolina TANF (known as Family Independence (FI)) can provide financial help and public assistance to qualified families over a short, defined period of time. This government created and paid for service can offer cash assistance for low income families with dependent children. Aid is focused on families that cannot provide for and pay for their own basic needs.

The number one goal of the Family Independence program is to help low income and working poor families pay for their critical living expenses by providing them with cash assistance, job training and employment opportunities as well as supportive services. It can help low income two-parent families, single-parents, as well as households with disabled adults. Not only can FI help, but in many instances these lower income families would be eligible for additional public assistance, such as Medicaid and SNAP benefits. Some of the specific programs administered by the South Carolina Department of Social Services include:

  • Employment planning and placement classes to both help find a job and get people trained. It can also offer critical work experience and on-the-job training.
  • Monthly stipend and cash assistance to pay for food, rent, utilities, and other basic needs.
  • Money for childcare and related subsidies, as well as child support services.
  • Access to transportation for employment and job training.
  • Limited transitional services with employment.
  • Assistance with relocation to other parts of South Carolina to obtain employment.
  • Hundreds of dollars can be paid out per month. More on South Carolina TANF cash assistance.

The South Carolina ABC Child Care Program can help qualified families as it will make cash payments to child care providers so that the parent can work or attend job training. ABC Child Care Program can also make day and child care programs more available and affordable to the families that need them. Read more.





Refugee Resettlement Program – This federal government supported program can help the newly arriving population of refugees access public and medical assistance. The objective is to help people become self-sufficient in the shortest timeframe following their arrival in the state of South Carolina.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps in South Carolina, can help end hunger and improve the health of the working poor and low-income people. It does this by helping families buy the food and meals they need for a nutritionally adequate diet for their families. Vouchers are provided to help people buy their food at their local supermarket or grocery store.

The number of people who use this public program is extensive, as just in South Carolina over 100,000 households per month get help in buying their food from SNAP. Once you qualify and sign up, clients will be issued an Electronic Benefits Transfer card for acquiring groceries. Case managers can also direct clients of SNAP to other social services and public aid to help them become self-sufficient. Or they can get immediate help from emergency SNAP food stamps.

Summer Food Service Program will help children in low-income towns and counties in South Carolina. It will assist them so they can continue to receive free or low cost nutritious meals during long school vacations or over summer breaks, when they do not have access to government paid for school breakfast or lunches.

Children can get food and meals from a number of different locations. Sponsors and participants of the SC Summer Food Service Program will operate meal service sites that may be located in a variety of settings across the state, including churches, schools, recreation centers, Indian reservations, playgrounds, public parks, community centers, day camps, residential summer camps, housing projects, or migrant worker centers. Each location will have high quality, yet free or low cost meals to teenagers and children.

Commodity Supplemental Food Program is another government program that will improve the health and nutrition of participants by supplementing their diets with high quality and nutritious USDA commodity foods. In some ways it is similar to Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); however the CSFP program also serves elderly people and disabled. It will also directly provide food and groceries rather than the just food vouchers that WIC participants receive.




Another South Carolina nutritional resource is the Emergency Food Assistance Program, which is also known as TEFAP. This may be able to help to supplement the diets of lower income state residents, including children and elderly people, by providing them with fee emergency food, meals and general nutrition assistance at no cost.

The federal government makes surplus commodity foods available to distributing agencies across South Carolina, including Salvation Army centers, community action agencies, as well as the Department of Social Services. The amount of food that each non-profit agency receives is generally based on the number of unemployed persons in the county and the number of people with incomes below the poverty level in the region. The food pantries and non-profits accept applications and distribute the food to local organizations such as food pantries and soup kitchens that directly serve the public.

Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program is a state resource. It may be able to provide fresh, unprepared, nutritious and locally grown fruits, vegetables, and herbs from community supported agriculture programs, farmers’ markets, and roadside stands to low-income seniors.

To apply for government aid, dial the South Carolina Department of Social Services at (800) 768-5700, or look into community resources below.

Local social services and public assistance

Charleston County

Horry County

Richland County



By Jon McNamara

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