50 years of service to 'touch as many lives as I can'

Ms. Edwards in the school food pantry.
August 8, 2023
by Feeding America Staff

Over nearly half a century, Ms. Joanne Edwards has held almost every job at Greeleyville Primary school in South Carolina.

She started as a teacher’s assistant. Later, she taught fifth graders and drove the school bus. She even worked in the front office.

But Ms. Edwards’s favorite job is the one she took on after retiring a few years ago. As a parenting liaison, she works closely with children and families to ensure that they have the resources they need.

“We consider ourselves a community-oriented school,” Ms. Edwards said, and her primary focus is access to healthy, reliable food. “You can’t focus if you’re hungry,” she said. “You can function without a good, nutritious meal.”

Greeleyville is a rural community. The closest grocery store is about a dozen miles away, creating an additional hurdle for families to buy meat and fresh produce.

In partnership with Lowcountry Food Bank, Ms. Edwards established several programs to meet the need she saw in Greeleyville. Through the school pantry, students receive snacks in the classroom and food to bring home to their families.

“When the kids are fed and they feel good about themselves, their attendance is better. Their self-esteem is better,” Ms. Edwards said. “The joy is seeing the kids happy, seeing them able to learn.”

Ms. Edwards also established a twice-monthly food distribution, which she runs from the school parking lot, for any member of the community. For people without access to reliable transportation, she visits community spaces – like hair salons and senior centers – to deliver food for distribution.

“We're really addressing needs of everybody: children, seniors, moms, and dads,” she said.

“I'm living in my passion. I enjoy doing what I do. I enjoy seeing people happy,” she said. “My goal is to touch as many lives as I can.”