Skip to Content

Arnold School of Public Health

Policy and Practice Briefs

The University of South Carolina's Center for Research in Nutrition and Health Disparities supports a Policy and Practice Brief series. The Center was established in 2003 with a mission to create a local, state-wide, national, and global presence that establishes the University as a national leader in nutrition and health disparities by engaging with community partners, other research institutions, public agencies, and professional organizations. Through this series, the Center provides objective, thoughtful analysis on current nutrition and health disparities related policy and practice issues from a public interest perspective.

We are actively looking for Affiliated Scholars who are interested in sharing their research experiences and findings through this series, as well as ideas from community organizations and agencies of topics for upcoming briefs that would help them in advancing their work. If you are interested in writing a brief or would like to request a topic, please contact our Director of Policy and Partnership Development, Carrie Draper, MSW at

October 2016: Policy Brief [pdf]
Local Food Distribution in the SC Midlands
Many food producing farmers in the Midlands of South Carolina are interested in expanding their market reach by selling to wholesale markets. There are challenges to these farmers expanding from direct-to-consumer retail sales (e.g., farmers market sales, community supported agriculture programs, and selling directly to restaurants) into wholesale markets. This brief highlights hurdles and opportunities for food producing farmers entering wholesale markets that were gleaned from these interviews. Hurdles to distributors feasibly meeting consumer demand for local product included food safety standards, quality of product, quantity of product available, the amount of food production in the area, and consumer understanding of the benefits of locally-produced food products.

July 2016: Policy Brief [pdf]

An Overview of the Building Capacity Through Community Organizing (BCCO) Certificate Program
The Childhood Obesity Prevention in South Carolina Communities (COPASCities), a collaborative research project of the University of South Carolina's Center for Research in Nutrition and Health Disparities, has developed an interactive capacity-building program around community organizing with a focus on strengthening the local food system in communities. This program is designed to bring diverse groups of people together to identify organizing opportunities and develop strategies collectively to transform communities and/or food systems through community organizing and advocacy. This brief provides an overview of the session components of the Building Capacity through Community Organizing (BCCO) Certificate Program.

June 2016: Policy Brief [pdf]
End Child Hunger SC Week: A Strategy for Building Awareness and Cultivating Action to Address Child Hunger
Close to 1 million children experience hunger, referred to as very low food security, annually in the United States, and 24.3% of children in South Carolina were estimated to have experienced food insecurity in 2014. Stakeholders and caregivers in the state have identified a lack of awareness that child hunger exists, as well as a lack of knowledge of specific anti-hunger programs available, as primary barriers to creating collective action to address this public health issue and aid in families' ability to access programs. End Childhood Hunger SC Week was established in October 2015 by a community-based group as a strategy to increase awareness of the issue and the programs available. This brief describes the rationale and process for developing the week, events held, and lessons learned and recommendations for replication. Awareness weeks could be used as a tool by anti-hunger advocates to elevate the issue in their community and state.


May 2016: Policy Brief [pdf]
Exploring the Effectiveness of Programs and Messages Addressing Sodium Reduction for Low-Income Parents and Children
Sodium is found in many of the foods commonly consumed by children and families in the United States, most notably in mixed dishes such as burgers, soups, sandwiches, pizza and packaged foods and snacks.1 These highly processed foods have resulted in an average sodium intake more than double the tolerable upper intake level for hypertensive or at-risk populations and 40% above the recommended intake for healthy adults and teens.2 Nutrition education resulting in dietary behavior change is needed to decrease sodium intake in children, specifically in low-income populations, who were found to have increased use of added salt and greater overall sodium content in home food inventories.3,4 A combination of dietary modifications, including increased intake of low-sodium foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, decreased consumption of packaged foods and increased preparation of meals at home using various spices to replace table salt, may be effective in reducing overall sodium consumption in this population. Nutrition education should focus on these dietary changes through promoting whole foods, teaching nutrition-label reading to determine sodium content and incorporating low-sodium cooking and tasting workshops. Providing nutrition education along the life-stage continuum starting with parents of young children and shifting toward the child as s/he ages may also result in improved dietary behaviors throughout the lifespan.


January 2016: Policy Brief [pdf]
FoodShare Columbia: A Case Study of a Produce Box Program with a SNAP Healthy Incentives Component.
FoodShare Columbia uses a partnership and community-based approach to ensure "Good Healthy Food for All" in an area of Columbia, South Carolina that lacks healthy food retail options. Every two weeks, community members are able to purchase a produce box (i.e., Fresh Food Boxes) and participate in food demonstration and enrichment activities at a city parks and recreation department community center. Since the program's launch in April 2015, over 1700 Fresh Food Boxes have been purchased by community members; 45% have been purchased with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) dollars. FoodShare Columbia is a replicable model for effectively increasing access to produce in low-income communities. This brief describes the program and lessons learned, and provides recommendations for program replication.