ESMMYC Feb. 2020 Meeting Summary – Healthy Bucks

by Karen van Vierssen

Mar. 24, 2020 (York County, SC) Eat Smart Move More York County (ESMMYC) welcomed Kelsey Allen to our February 11, 2020, general membership meeting. She spoke about Eat Smart Move More South Carolina (ESMMSC) work on House Bill H-32-50 on Healthy Bucks. Lynn Caldwell discussed ESMMYC Access to Healthy Foods work. The meeting concluded with a roundtable discussion.

Discussion Summary

Kelsey Allen from Eat Smart Move More South Carolina (ESMMSC) spoke about the Healthy Bucks initiative, which is associated with SNAP benefits.  Kelsey explained that because of how the initiative is funded, there is always the chance every year that the program will be cut.  The program started in 2013 and still has $1.3 million remaining that has gone unused, mostly because the program has not been used as much as was originally anticipated.  The program is administered through the Department of Social Services, and as overwhelmed and understaffed as they already are, concern for SNAP recipients getting fresh produce has not been a priority for DSS.  Farmer participation has not been high, in part because it takes so long (up to 6 weeks) for farmers to be reimbursed for Healthy Bucks purchases.

ESMMSC is working on language changes for the next budget sessions.  H-32-50 is the current bill, which has a May deadline.  Kelsey asked members to make calls and send emails to legislators asking them to support the Healthy Bucks initiative.  She provided the group with a script handout and asked that a push be made to make all calls on Wednesday and Thursday of this week. She also asks SC residents to sign the ESMMSC Healthy Bucks petition.

ESMMSC Advocacy Call to Action

Lynn Caldwell reported on the ESMMYC project she is working on regarding Access to Healthy Foods. Her preliminary research included sending out questions to ESMMYC members, but she has more information gathering that she will be doing.  So far, she has found there is a common desire for everyone to support each other’s events and share information.  She said that collaboration is needed and wanted.  Other comments received from respondents included the need for nutritional education and food preparation education, which needed to be done with empathy and without judgment – even small steps would mean big changes.  Lynn suggested that a page on the ESMMYC website that listed healthy choices at local restaurants would be a helpful step.

Allen talks to ESMMYC Members

Open discussion among members included small things people could do to support National Nutrition Month (March) including My Plate, drinking water, serving sizes, sharing healthy recipes, and making recommendations for better choices for particular chronic health issue diets.  The Cooking Matters program (SNAP education) was also discussed.

Attendees: Elizabeth Duda (chair); Kelsey Allen (Eat Smart Move More South Carolina); Lynn Caldwell (Farmers Market Management Services); Margaret Crawford (Broken to Better); Dan Fesperman (Atrium Health); Nikita Jackson (North Central Family Medical Center); Shae Hoffman (Piedmont Medical Center); Dr. Dave Keely (ESMMYC 5-2-1-0 Committee); Tammie Welch (Fort Mill School District); Karen van Vierssen (ESMMYC Secretary; Clover Area Assistance Center)