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Arnold School of Public Health

Policy and Practice Briefs

The University of South Carolina's Nutrition Consortium supports a Policy and Practice Brief series. The Consortium 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 by engaging with community partners, other research institutions, public agencies, and professional organizations. Through this series, the Consortium provides objective, thoughtful analysis on current nutrition-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. 


June 2017: Policy Brief
Increasing Access to Produce in South Carolina through the SNAP-Ed Program
SC residents with a low-income experience higher rates of negative health outcomes, in part from barriers to accessing healthy foods.  Twenty-five focus groups were conducted in 6 South Carolina (SC) counties at locations that serve people with limited resources. The primary reported barriers to accessing healthy foods were: lack of affordability and transportation; poor quality of available produce in stores; and distance to available produce.  Preferred solutions to increasing healthy food access were: more farmers’ markets that accept SNAP, mobile markets, community gardens and summer meal programs for children; and having the ability to purchase foods from local farmers.  SNAP-Ed implementers and others should work in partnership with local communities to increase access to healthy foods through the implementation of these preferred strategies.

March 2017: Policy Brief
A Review of Policies to Reduce Food Waste and Recommendations for Future Efforts

The prevalence of food waste around the globe indicates a widespread challenge to balance food production and distribution with the demands of consumers. As the population continues to grow, the social, economic, and environmental impacts of this unnecessary waste are becoming increasingly evident. Reducing food waste at the retail and consumer levels has the capacity to significantly decrease environmental strain and improve food security around the world. This brief explores current policies and initiatives which aim to discourage food waste through various efforts including prevention, donation, and composting. Recommendations for future efforts are also discussed.


October 2016: Policy Brief
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

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
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
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
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.


October 2015: Policy BriefOpportunities for Increasing Participation in the Summer Food Service Program
Currently, the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) reaches one out of every five low-income children in South Carolina. 1 To identify opportunities for increasing participation, we interviewed 4 program sponsors, 5 sites and 34 caregivers. Results point to the need to enhance the experience for youth at sites, for example, by providing activities in conjunction with serving meals; ensure meal delivery to sites; strategically choose site locations; and increase outreach of program and site information to families. A site case study and specific recommendations are provided. 

July 2015: Policy Brief
The State of Nutrition and Food-Systems Change in SC
Executive Summary: The National Prevention Strategy provides a framework and specific recommendations for food-systems change, and although the nation understands that nutrition and food systems are inextricably linked to the health of our communities, there is a shortage of trained professionals to lead and direct these efforts. Therefore, students that receive a minor in Nutrition and Food Systems through the Department of Health Promotion, Education and Behavior at USC will possess competencies enabling them to guide communities in transforming our food systems to promote environmental sustainability, improve nutritional health and address social justice. The minor will not only fulfill student interests in food and nutrition but also build USC's institutional expertise in nutrition and food-systems change for childhood obesity prevention by offering courses that focus on the production, processing, retail, consumption and disposal of food. 

April 2015: Policy Brief
Successes and Challenges of the SNAP Healthy Bucks Program: A Photovoice Project
The South Carolina SNAP Healthy Bucks program was created in 2014. The aim of this SNAP (the program formerly known as food stamps) healthy incentives program is to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables for low-income families in the state. At the same time, this type of programming is also shown to increase the income of small-scale farmers, therefore, keeping more money in the local economy. 

From June to October 2014, 6 farmers' markets participated in the pilot implementation of the SNAP Healthy Bucks Program, administered by the South Carolina Department of Social Services. We wanted to learn about the successes and challenges of participating in the program from people who shop with SNAP.

To gain these insights, we used Photovoice. We asked some people who receive SNAP in 4 of the pilot "Healthy Bucks" counties to answer a few questions about shopping at farmers' markets and using "Healthy Bucks" through photographs. This document contains the photographs taken and captions written by participants. 
Carrie Draper, MSW



October 2014: Policy Brief
Growth and Representation: Decreasing Barriers and Creating Networks Supporting Food Producing Farmers in South Carolina's Midlands 
Katie Welborn & Carrie Draper, MSW
Access to capital, processing regulations, the need for skilled labor, the labor pay scale, and food safety certifications are the top obstacles of food producing farmers in the Midlands of South Carolina. Despite these barriers, Midlands farmers are experiencing growing consumer demand for their products while networks to steward these enterprises and represent these farmers are lacking. Food hubs, tax incentives, schools purchasing locally, and increased representation of food producing farmers through entities like regional food policy councils and the SC Department of Agriculture would foster agricultural entrepreneurship and sustainability in the region.

August 2014: Policy Brief
South Carolina SNAP Healthy Bucks Pilot Implementation 
Carrie Draper
We know that eating fresh healthy foods is good for all of us, but doing so can be difficult for some families due to economic constraints. SNAP healthy incentive programs aim to increase the economic buying power for people who receive SNAP to be able to purchase fresh healthy foods. This is done by matching what recipients spend on produce with their SNAP benefits up to a certain amount.

May 2014: Policy BriefSummer Feeding Program Utilization in the Midlands of South Carolina 
Carrie Draper & Sonya Jones
The Summer Food Service Program aims to ensure children still receive nutritious meals when school is not in session. Free meals are provided to children under the age of 18 at designated sites in communities. In surveying 538 caregivers in the Midlands region of South Carolina, we found that the Summer Food Service Program is underutilized among house-holds experiencing food insecurity and hunger. In order to increase utilization, increased aware-ness of the existence of the program and site locations, as well as more sites within walking distance to where children live are needed.

May 2014: Policy Brief
Community Kitchens: Fostering Social Relationships, Economic Development and Access to Fresh Produce 
Sara Berry & Carrie Draper
Community kitchens can function in a variety of ways, such as collective kitchens, job-training sites, and small business incubators. These kitchens provide opportunities for fostering social relationships, economic development, and access to fresh produce.

March 2014: Policy Brief
Buying Power, Community Power: Increasing Access to Produce through Bulk Produce Buying Clubs 
Lashonda Williams, Bri Farber, & Carrie Draper
Fruits and vegetables are expensive and difficult to access for low-income communities. A bulk produce buying club could help improve access by bringing fruits and vegetables into communities at lower prices, particularly through the usage of SNAP. Further they can empower communities to participate in local and regional food systems.


September 2013: Policy Brief
SNAP Double Bucks Programs: Increasing Access to Produce While Supporting Small Farmers and the Local Economy 
By Carrie Draper, MSW and Sonya Jones, PhD
Researchers, policy makers, and practitioners around the country have been working to find effective ways to improve access to farm-fresh foods. Some of the approaches being tested include healthy corner stores, healthy food financing, WIC and Senior farmers' market vouchers, and SNAP double bucks programs. This policy brief describes SNAP double bucks programs, and addresses its potential health, economic, and social impact.


January 2012: Policy Brief
Evaluating the S.C. Farm-to-School Program in Context
By Casey Childers, MA; Amy Teixeira, MSPH; Jacquelyn Ball; Sonya Jones, PhD
The average child in the US eats no vegetables and the equivalent of less than one half a cup of fruit per day. The latest guidelines say half the plate of foods we eat should be vegetables and fruit. The USDA, well-meaning school food service organizations, and parents have been trying to improve this situation here in South Carolina. We had the opportunity to evaluate how our best efforts are affecting children at a local elementary school. The results will be useful to decision makers considering long-term support for the educational program at community, state, and national levels.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.