Policy Wins: Healthy Food Choices in Public Places

Close to two million South Carolina residents and employees in three major areas of the state will have healthier food and beverage choices when they visit vending machines and attend meetings that offer food. To make South Carolina a healthier place to live, Eat Smart Move More South Carolina (ESMMSC) teamed up with Voices for Healthy Kids to help local government develop and adopt healthy vending and food service policies. The City of Columbia adopted a joint policy and the City of Charleston and Spartanburg County were successful in adopting a healthy vending policy.

“To know that local governments are taking the initiative for their employees and visitors is a great sign for what’s to come in our efforts to increase access to healthier options for all South Carolinians.”

The Columbia policy supports the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Healthy Workplace Guidelines and applies to vending machines on city property and to city-sponsored meetings. The City of Charleston’s AHA-supported policy only applies to vending machines, while Spartanburg County’s policy supports the Food Service Guidelines for Federal Facilities and only applies to vending machines in county-owned or -leased property.

“Leaders in Charleston, Columbia, and Spartanburg County are leading by example. They spend money on nutrition education, wellness, and other disease prevention programs, so it just makes sense that they should support these programs by offering healthier food and beverages in public places,” said Ford.

In 2017, Columbia City Council voted unanimously to adopt their policy; while in 2018, Charleston’s policy was approved by Mayor John Tecklenburg and Spartanburg County Interim Administrator Jim Hipp approved the county policy.

ESMMSC is excited to work with leaders over the next few years to support successful implementation of these policies. If you are interested in learning more or would like to adopt a healthy vending and food service policy in your municipality or county, contact Phil Ford, ESMMSC Manager of Policy, Advocacy, and Community Support at phil@eatsmartmovemoresc.org.

The Healthy Food Choices in Public Places initiative was supported by a grant through Voices for Healthy Kids. ESMMSC partnered with staff from Voices for Healthy Kids, American Heart Association, South Carolina Hospital Association’s Working Well program, South Carolina Commission for the Blind, and local government staff to achieve this monumental success.