My Tenure as Chair of Eat Smart Move More York County

by Elizabeth W. Duda

Feb. 1, 2021 (York County, SC) Stepping down as chair of Eat Smart Move More York County (ESMMYC), I reflect here on my evolution at ESMMYC, the commitment I made, what we accomplished, what I am most proud of, and going forward.

I was excited for the challenge of leading the ESMMYC coalition when its major (Let’s Go) grant funding ended three years ago. How could ESMMYC continue to impact our local communities? How could we create value for our members – both the professionals and community members? Looking back, I am pleased to report that, through strategic planning and collaboration, the ESMMYC chapter grew and created more opportunities in York County for healthy eating, active living, and community health. I am proud of what ESMMYC accomplished during my tenure as chair from 2018-2020. I am also grateful to the individuals tied to ESMMYC who helped prepare me for my role as chair.

February 2019 General Membership Meeting

My ESMMYC Evolution

I was introduced to ESMMYC in 2015 by then-Fort Mill School District Nutrition Director, Roland Cabading, who also chaired ESMMYC. He suggested that I join the advocacy committee, which gave me tools and knowledge to advocate for healthier school environments. Beyond the school setting, I began to learn how to build healthier communities, and sought to help all of York County. Joining the ESMMYC chapter as a general member, I learned from the diverse membership which included school districts, university professors, medical professionals, municipalities, government agencies, nonprofits, farmers, fitness professionals, and community members like me with a personal interest.

As communications chair from 2016-2017, I created the communication plan and managed the website and social media. I collaborated with the leadership team and committees[1] to share information, raise awareness, and attract members. I learned from the Eat Smart Move More South Carolina[2] communications and marketing professional. ESMMYC still leverages the communication plan today.

The Commitment

When the chair role opened in 2018, I threw my hat in the ring. I felt confident that my education, professional experience, passion for ESMMYC work, and respect for the members and partners would enable me to lead and build this coalition. I was excited to begin.

What We Did

Let’s Go Celebration, 2018

With the grant funding ended, I led strategy sessions to shape the direction that would ensure sustainability and continued impact. In response we hosted a fun (and tasty!) outreach event to thank our community partners for their support and communicate ESMMYC’s impact during the grant period. We reduced the number of meetings. We began hosting guest speakers to learn about, and showcase, their work in the community – which has led to important new partnerships. We focused on “who was missing” to ensure a diverse, inclusive, impactful coalition. We leveraged ESMMYC experience and connections to support efforts aligned with our mission.

What I Am Most Proud of

We retained, and built up, our amazing leadership team! Their organizations, and passion for doing impactful work across York County, are inspirational. Our “working board” brings ideas, opportunities for collaboration, and connections. Some people moved into the newly created “advisor” role, to share their expertise. Regularly focused on “who is missing,” ESMMYC also built new partnerships. And while 2020 was a tough year for everyone, I appreciate that everyone did their best.

The 2018 strategic planning was key. Not only did we confirm ESMMYC’s mission and vision, but we identified our core values: Leadership; Collaboration/Partnership; Sustainability; Health Equity; and Adaptability. Our focused strategy led to efficiencies and a clear impact.

ESMMYC efforts prove that one good step leads to another and our impact is magnified. For example, we hosted folks pursuing York County’s first all-inclusive playground as our guest speakers (read the summary here). We brought awareness to their work through our network and communications channels; connected them to a 6th grader’s “pay it forward” bike rodeo benefiting All Play Together (summary here); and led a walkability study around Tega Cay site (story board here). The city incorporated findings into the city’s comprehensive plan (summary here) and will work to resolve issues as budget, weather, staffing and feasibility permit. ESMMYC also wrote a letter of support when the city applied for grant funding in support of crosswalk safety.

Going Forward

As I move from the chair role to lead ESMMYC communications and advocacy this year, I am excited to continue to work with the amazing leadership team and ESMMYC partners. We are once again looking at our strategy and taking a good look at the health equity component to ensure we are serving all of York County. Our advocacy team already is making great headway related to Safe Routes to Schools, in partnership with the Bike/Ped Coalition of York County.

If you are interested in getting involved with ESMMYC, contact us at; “like” us on FaceBook; follow us on Twitter, check out our website, and come to a general or committee meeting!

[1] ESMMYC committees were: Advocacy; Active Community Environments; Access to Healthy Foods; and 5-2-1-0 committee promoting healthy eating and active living through its message of 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables; fewer than 2 hours of recreational screen time; 1 or more hours of physical activity and play; and 0 sugary drinks (more water!).

[2] ESMMYC is the local chapter of Eat Smart Move More South Carolina, a 501(c)(3) non-profit that provides communities with proven and sustainable approaches that lead to increased access to healthy choices for all people.