Leadership Summit, ESMMSC work gives faith-based communities tools to improve environments

It’s no secret that the South is the Bible Belt of the country, an informal region in religion that plays a strong role in the daily lives of millions of people. It’s also a known fact that church attendance across the South is generally higher than the nation’s average, making healthy change more tangible. That’s why faith-based healthy eating and active living strategies are important pieces of Eat Smart Move More South Carolina’s (ESMMSC) work.

At the Leadership Summit for Healthy Communities, faith-based breakout sessions are almost always included on the agenda to give communities ideas on how to make their places of worship healthier environments, and this year is no different. On October 29 in Florence, Leadership Summit attendees have three opportunities to learn about current work being done in South Carolina that can be duplicated in their own faith-based communities.

  1. Engaging Youth as Partners in Healthy Eating and Active Living: A Panel Discussion. During this session, three rural communities will share their successes in implementing The HYPE Project. Melissa Buckner, adult advisor for St. Peter’s AME Church in Walterboro, SC, has helped teens implement policy changes at the church through a grant provided by the Young People’s Division (YPD) of the 7th District AME Church and ESMMSC. Other speakers who are implementing The HYPE Project through other grant opportunities are Calvin Whitmire of Bridging the Gap Advocacy in Laurens and Mary Kayrouz of United Way of Anderson.
  2. Grassroots Approaches to Increasing Healthy Food Access in Rural and Low-Income Areas. In Orangeburg, Growing Calhoun Orangeburg and Calhoun (COB) have been highly successful with community gardens and supply low-income families with free produce. Growing COB has done this by working with local churches and other partners to create and maintain the gardens.
  3. The Power of the Pulpit. LiveWell Greenville has achieved success with their LiveWell at Worship program. Margaret Stephens will talk about how LiveWell Greenville has effectively engaged with faith communities – something that isn’t always achievable. She will also explain the LiveWell at Worship program, and why relationship building is a necessary step in achieving success within the faith-based community.

To attend these sessions, register for the Leadership Summit for Healthy Communities by October 16th. The Leadership Summit will be on October 29 at the Florence Center in Florence, SC.

ESMMSC Work in Faith-Based Communities

Through professional development opportunities, like the Leadership Summit, community and faith leaders can establish working relationships with other leaders around the state and learn how to implement healthy change in their faith-based communities.

Faith, Activity, and Nutrition
Earlier this year, ESMMSC partnered with the Prevention Research Center at the University of South Carolina to host a Faith, Activity, and Nutrition (FAN) Train the Trainer workshop.  Twenty-six individuals from around the state became Community Health Advisors to teach the FAN program in their communities. Recently, Eat Smart Move More Kershaw County hosted the FAN training. After educating more than 120 churches on the FAN concept, representatives from 14 churches learned how to implement the FAN program. Now that church leaders are implementing changes, ESMM Kershaw County will bring everyone together in the fall to discuss success and challenges.

The HYPE YPD Project

Fourteen YPDs of the 7th District AME Church received a grant from ESMMSC to learn the curriculum-based HYPE Project and to implement healthy eating and active living strategies at their church and within their communities.  Each church received up to $800.00 to work on one policy change and one church- or community-based project.

The HYPE YPD teams used the FAN policy planning guide to advocate for policies at their churches, such as removing salt shakers from tables; offering water, fruit, and vegetables at church functions that serve food; scheduling physical activity breaks during services and meetings; and eliminating fried foods. In addition to these policies, HYPE YPD teams are creating gardens and walking paths, advocating for roadway signs, and educating church members on healthy eating and active living.

If your church is a member of the 7th District AME Church and you would like your YDP to get involved in The HYPE Project, grant opportunities will become available through ESMMSC soon. Contact Trimease Carter, youth engagement manager, at trimease@eatsmartmovemoresc.org about this opportunity. You can also apply for a Let’s Go! mini-grant in January 2020. Visit esmmsc.org for more information.