Navigating the Fine Line: Balancing Advocacy and Lobbying for Effective Impact

Navigating the Fine Line: Balancing Advocacy and Lobbying for Effective Impact

Are you passionate about advocacy but concerned about the fine line between impactful advocacy and lobbying expenses? Join us for an insightful webinar, ” Navigating the Fine Line: Balancing Advocacy and Lobbying for Effective Impact,” where we delve into the art of structuring advocacy efforts strategically within the boundaries of non-lobbying expenses.

Healthy Meetings and Wellness: Creating a Culture of Health Through Policies

Healthy Meetings and Wellness: Creating a Culture of Health Through Policies

Have you attended an Eat Smart Move More South Carolina (ESMMSC) meeting or event and felt annoyed that your only beverage options were water and unsweetened tea? Or that your only food options were salads, wraps, or grilled chicken? There’s a reason for that! ESMMSC has a Healthy Meetings and Wellness Policy that supports its mission and work: to advance community-led change to reduce obesity, by making the healthy choice the easy choice for every South Carolinian.

Many organizations and businesses are implementing healthy meetings and events practices. To send the message that health is important to them, to help support the health of the employees, members, and partners, and to have more energized and engaged participants, organizations and businesses should adopt healthy meetings and events policies too.

“If we served sugar-sweetened beverages, fried foods, and went heavy on refined carbs at our meetings and events where food is served, it would completely go against everything our organization stands for,” said Meg Stanley, executive director at ESMMSC. “We care about the health of everyone we come in contact with, so it just makes sense to have these types of policies in place and to implement them.”

Far too often, organizations and businesses serve unhealthy breakfast, lunch, and snack foods at conferences and meetings. And that’s easy to do when there aren’t policies in place that provide guidelines.

“For example, if you’re a health insurance company and your mission, in part, is to keep healthcare costs down, serving fried chicken at a  meeting makes it hard to say you’re staying true to your mission,” says Stanley. “The same is true for any business, small or large. If you care about employee health and wellness, you should have a policy in place and enforce that policy.”

Since its inception in 2007, ESMMSC has maintained and implemented a Healthy Meetings and Wellness Policy: Given our mission to make the healthy choice the easy choice for every South Carolinian, ESMMSC aims to create a workplace that promotes and supports healthy lifestyles for both employees and partners. As such, ESMMSC has adopted the following wellness policies: Healthy Meetings and Catering, Movement Meetings, Physical Activity Opportunities, Sharing Food, and Staff Wellness.

Each of these policies provides opportunities to those who attend ESMMSC meetings and events, as well as staff, to eat healthy foods and to engage in healthy activities. Download the ESMMSC policy.

“I’ll be honest, when I started working at ESMMSC eight years ago, I wasn’t thrilled about the policies, but I’ve come to appreciate them. They make me accountable for my health and wellness,” says Brandie Freeman, communications and marketing manager at ESMMSC. “With these policies in place, I drink more water, snack on fruits instead of chips and candy, and have managed to eat more vegetables with my meals. I mean, I’m not perfect. I still indulge, but I don’t do it quite so often.”

If your organization or business would like to adopt a Healthy Meetings and Wellness Policy, there are a couple of reputable resources available online. You can also contact ESMMSC.

  1. The American Heart Association’s Healthy Workplace Food and Toolkit
  2. Center for Science in the Public Interest’s Healthy Meetings Resources

Adopting a Healthy Meetings and Wellness Policy is a great way to highlight the culture of health within your organization or business and be part of the growing movement around health and wellness. For more information, contact Executive Director Meg Stanley at or Manager of Policy and Advocacy Phil Ford at

Coalition Changemakers: Understanding the Whys and Hows of Grassroots Advocacy

Coalition Changemakers: Understanding the Whys and Hows of Grassroots Advocacy

Whether you realize it or not, you’ve probably been advocating for things throughout your life. Did you ask your parents for a pet and give them reasons why you deserve one? Have you ever asked your boss for a raise and explained why you deserve it? What about raising concerns about your loved one’s healthcare with their provider? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you are an advocate.

Advocacy is an activity by an individual or group that aims to influence decisions within political, economic, and social systems and institutions. Advocacy is presenting a problem or a need to elected officials, and it’s almost always accompanied by a solution.

“One thing my mom used to tell me growing up: don’t just come to me with a problem. Come to me with a solution as well,” says Phil Ford, manager of policy and advocacy. “It’s important for legislators to be made aware of the problem but it’s even more important to let them know that you want to work with them to find an appropriate solution.”

Advocacy is, perhaps, the most effective way to make change happen on any level of government because the issues directly impact the day to day lives of every citizen in a town or county – not to mention the state.

Communicating with your elected officials is important. They often only hear from constituents when they need something. It’s just as important to thank them for a vote on a bill or resolution, or for standing with you on the issues.

“Don’t be afraid to contact your decision-makers. They often hear from constituents only when something is needed, but they’re not recognized when they do the “right” thing. So, when you notice a decision-maker who’s done the “right” thing, thank them and let them know,” says Ford.

Everyone can advocate. Whether it’s asking your own legislator for support or only distributing facts to elected officials, every individual has the right to advocate. Use our Steps to Effective Advocacy handout to guide you through your next advocacy campaign. For a further explanation of advocacy, download our What is Advocacy handout.

New Advocacy Platform Released

Eat Smart Move More SC (ESMMSC) engages community and state partners in efforts to support healthy eating and active living policies at the local, state, and federal level. In a state that suffers from one of the highest rates of obesity in the country, ESMMSC and our partners are advocating for the state and local policy changes necessary to support individuals in the adoption of lifelong healthy habits.

The new advocacy platform includes initiatives that positively effects PSE change, which ultimately help prevent and reduce the high incidence of obesity in our state. The platform addresses the following settings: Early Care, K-12 Schools, and Community. The document outlines healthy eating and active living policy initiatives from out-of-school time, FitnessGram, and accountability to healthy food sales and service, Complete Streets, and SNAP and Healthy Bucks.

Download the 2019-2020 Advocacy Platform here. If you have any question or want to get involved, contact Phil Ford at