Advocacy What's Happening

HEAL advocates attend Lobby Day at the State House

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BY COLEMAN TANNER, MPH, CHES
ADVOCACY AND PUBLIC POLICY MANAGER

Eat Smart Move More South Carolina held its Lobby Day on March 2 to raise awareness about obesity prevention and to ask for support for the Healthy Food in Schools Bill (S484). A group of fifteen devoted advocates met one-on-one in the State House with their representatives to explain the importance of the bill, answer questions, ask for support, and share local successes.
The Healthy Food in Schools Bill (S484) aligns our state nutrition standards with those set by the USDA and ensures the standards are regularly updated with the USDA guidelines. Last year, it was passed in the SC Senate and referred to the SC House.

Many people are intimidated about meeting with their lawmakers; however, Lobby Day is a great way to connect with your decision makers in a supportive environment. It also helps create a collective voice for our cause.

Representative Neal Collins (Pickens County, District 5) welcomed our group of advocates and applauded our work in obesity prevention. Rep. Collins serves on the Joint Citizen Legislative Committee for Children, a group that has consistently recognized childhood obesity as a priority issue. He is also championing the Healthier State House Challenge, which is encouraging physical activity and healthy eating among the General Assembly and their staff.

Later in the day, members of Eat Smart Move More York County spoke in depth with Rep. Raye Felder (York County, District 26) about the work they are doing, including creating a more walkable and bikeable community and working with schools to create healthier school environments.

“I enjoyed talking to Rep. Felder and telling her about the great work we’re doing and how supporting S484 will strengthen our efforts to provide healthy environments for students,” said Elizabeth Duda, York County resident. “Lobby Day was the perfect opportunity for me to talk about topics that I support and to share my experience with working on healthy eating and active living issues in my community.”

After speaking to her legislator, Lexington County resident Amy Splittgerber experienced positive feedback. She said, “I received a personal letter from him letting me know that he recommended that the Healthy Food in Schools bill be put on the House Education Committee calendar so that it can become law by June. Lobby Day is a very easy way to begin to build a personal relationship with your legislator and educate them on issues that can impact healthy eating and active living.”

Based on the success of our first Lobby Day, we plan to make this an annual event. We want to provide our advocates with the opportunity to meet their legislators and tell them about the great work they’re doing to make the healthy choice the easy choice.

Learn more about Healthy Food in Schools Bill at www.esmmsc.org.