June 11, 2021 | Erin Bluvas, email@example.com
The University of South Carolina SNAP-Ed Implementing Agency, in partnership with the South Carolina Food Policy Council, has awarded nearly $12,000 each to seven groups across the state. The Brookland Center for Community Economic Change, Eat Smart Move More of Greenwood (in partnership with United Way of Greenwood and Abbeville Counties), Impact York County, LiveWell Greenville, Oconee Food Summit, Pick 42 Foundation, and Tri-County Health Network will use the funding to expand and develop their local food policy councils.
"We know that some families participating, or who are eligible and not currently participating, in SNAP face inequities when it comes to accessing healthy foods on a regular basis,” says Carrie Draper, a senior research associate in the Arnold School’s Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior and the principal investigator for UofSC SNAP-Ed. “This is especially prevalent in communities predominately of color. In a lot of these areas across the state, grocery stores are sparse, transportation options are limited, and people working in jobs within the food system are paid low wages. These are all issues that a local food policy council can work to address."
The UofSC team* works with partners to change policies, systems and environments to making healthy eating opportunities more accessible for South Carolinians living on a low income. They also conduct monitoring and evaluation activities to better understand the needs of low-income residents and the effects of the SNAP-Ed program. The program’s activities and resources stretch across 44 of South Carolina’s 46 counties to provide low-income individuals and households with strategies and opportunities for healthy eating and active living on a budget due to the work of four Implementing Agencies and the South Carolina Department of Social Services as the administrative agency.
Last year, the UofSC team led the development of the SC State SNAP-Ed Program’s first-ever annual impact report. They found that more than 25,000 low-income South Carolinians received evidence-based education (e.g., information and skill development in the areas of healthy eating and food resource management) in 2019 as a result of SNAP-Ed programming.
The report also showed that the policy, systems and environmental changes that were implemented at 79 locations impacted nearly 40,000 residents. Additional information included in the report provides details on the settings and populations engaged by SNAP-Ed as well as data and service/success descriptions specific to the implementing agencies.
Through their evaluation activities for the report and beyond as well as Draper’s long-standing leadership role with the South Carolina Food Policy Council, the team have had many conversations and interviews with food policy councils. These discussions revealed that grant funding could help the councils build capacity and accomplish goals, resulting in the development of the present grant program.
With this funding, the grantees will conduct community food assessments, including holding community food gatherings, in order to identify and then advance policy, systems and environmental change strategies to increase access to healthy food and ensure food equity. They will also engage priority populations and partners from diverse sectors (e.g., healthcare, planning, local government, law enforcement) in the food council policy.
*UofSC SNAP-Ed team members include Carrie Draper (Principal Investigator), Nicholas Younginer (Co-investigator), Zachary Herrnstadt (Food Policy Council Program Coordinator), Ashley Page Bookhart (Program Coordinator), Amy Weaver (Health Care Program Coordinator), and Christopher Paget (Evaluation Coordinator)