Jennifer Cassidy only ate slices of bread and drank Gatorade for several weeks in 2007.
Cassidy, 36, was unemployed and medical bills were piling up, but she refused to ask for help.
"I was embarrassed that I wasn't able to feed myself. I struggled with the thought that my faith was lacking," Cassidy said. "I thought there shouldn't be anything that God and I can't do."
Finally, a pastor convinced Cassidy that she needed to go to Harvest Hope Food Bank in Columbia.
So Cassidy - once a donor to Harvest Hope - went to the agency's emergency food pantry on Shop Road and stood in line for groceries.
As South Carolina's economy continues in the doldrums, the demand for help at the state's food banks keeps going up.
This year, Harvest Hope has helped an average of 283,832 people a month in the 20 counties it serves, said Elizabeth Quackenbush, chief development officer at Harvest Hope.
Demand is up 100 percent over last year, she said.
Other S.C. food banks report similar situations.
Jermaine Husser, executive director of Lowcountry Food Bank in Charleston, said his agency has seen a 36 percent increase in clients. His food bank serves the state's 10 coastal counties.
Golden Harvest Food Bank, which serves 30 counties in South Carolina and Georgia, distributed 12.4 million pounds of food last year, a 16 percent increase over the previous year, said Tanika Mason, a development officer.
All the food banks have heard stories similar to Cassidy's, in which a one-time donor becomes a food bank recipient after falling on hard times.
"We've seen construction workers, sales staff, real estate agents, architects who have come through our doors who used to give through the United Way," Husser said.
'I HAD TO CHOOSE'
Cassidy worked at BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina for four years as a behavioral health technician. She took calls from customers who needed referrals or other help with insurance coverage of mental health problems.
At her job, Cassidy participated in fundraisers for Harvest Hope where employees could bring canned goods to work in exchange for being allowed to wear jeans. She also donated to Harvest Hope through United Way's Fair Share payroll deductions.
On April 3, 2007, Cassidy was talking to a customer when she started stuttering and could not grip her pen. She was taken to a hospital because co-workers thought she was having a stroke.
Today, Cassidy has a long list of ailments - including Parkinson's disease - that she says prevent her from holding down a steady job.
Jobless, Cassidy said she went hungry because her medication cost a lot of money.
"When I had to choose between eating and medicine, I chose the medications."
She has depended on Harvest Hope for more than two years.
"This has become one of my families," she said.
Last month, Cassidy started receiving food stamps, but she does not qualify for Medicaid or other public benefits.
For most people, food stamps only provide enough food for 10 days each month, Quackenbush said. Then, those people turn to Harvest Hope for food for the rest of the month, she said.
On Friday, Cassidy took home a shopping cart full of food, including rotini noodles, brownies, canned vegetables and salad mix.
She especially was excited about a Thanksgiving turkey and was a little baffled by a bag of non-fat powdered milk.
"I've never seen that before. But I'll figure it out. It definitely will go to use."