Success Stories & Toolkit: Maximizing Community Partnerships and Resources to Reduce Obesity
- Amy DeLisio, MPH, RDN
- Stephanie Carillo, Angela Dennis, Sandra Torres
State Nutrition Action Councils (SNACs) are an innovative, collaborative strategy to improve community health through partnerships and coalitions. The United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service (USDA FNS) coordinates efforts to convene SNACs in states across the nation to align nutrition and obesity prevention activities across FNS programs and other key stakeholders.
SNACs work in communities to design and launch comprehensive nutrition education and obesity prevention programs, partnerships, and healthy community and system changes. Together with residents and community partners, SNACs are helping to identify community assets, influence policies, challenge systems and create opportunities for healthier communities.
Through a partnership with the USDA FNS Southeast Regional office, the Public Health Institute Center for Wellness and Nutrition (PHI CWN) supported the eight Southeast states in establishing or refreshing their SNACs to meet their residents’ nutrition and food security needs through a peer learning community. CWN has also inspired states across the country to act and build effective SNACs by providing customized resources, training, and technical assistance.
The following CWN resources share practical, proven community-focused solutions, success stories and tools—designed to help your community increase access to healthy foods and physical activity opportunities, with an emphasize on ways to maximize resources and coalition-building efforts:
Booklet: Success Stories from the Southeast Region State Nutrition Action Councils
Released in 2021, this resource is a collection of success stories that highlight the improvements made by SNAC partnering organizations in the Southeast Region states. It explores how organizations used resiliency and partnership expansion to forge win-win initiatives amid limited resources, setbacks, restarts and challenging times, and shares concrete ideas and steps for how communities can replicate and build on these strategies.
Success Story: SNAC is launched in South Carolina
In June 2019, South Carolina’s State Nutrition Action Coalition (SNAC) began to form. Before this time, South Carolina’s SNAC did not exist. The groundwork for establishing the coalition started with developing the SNAC information pamphlet, the South Carolina SNAC State Crosswalk, and the Organizational Philosophy and Readiness for Implementing Change surveys. From August 2019 to September 2020, the South Carolina SNAC Assessment started and conducted interviews. During the recruitment and assessment, 33 potential SNAC members were interviewed. Before this assessment, many South Carolina Food and Nutrition Service programs (FNS) providers were not aware of SNAC or its purpose.
The purpose of the South Carolina SNAC assessment was to:
• Bring awareness of SNAC to FNS providers.
• Become familiar with current obesity prevention strategies within each FNS program.
• Solicit recommendations from coalition members to develop future strategies for SNAC Initiatives.
• Assess program and organizational readiness for implementing policy, system, and environmental
• (PSE) changes related to obesity prevention strategies
In January of 2021, the SNAC assessment was completed, and membership was extended to all the South Carolina FNS programs. South Carolina launched the initial SNAC meeting virtually on February 24, 2021. The meeting was well-attended, engaging, and all the SNAC members were present representing the 15 South Carolina FNS programs. The SNAC assessment results were presented during the meeting and the South Carolina SNAC logo was revealed.
The SNAC Assessment findings identified:
• Subject, setting, and audience served by program area.
• Professional, financial, and implementing influence among agencies.
• Recommended initiatives for South Carolina SNAC to address.
South Carolina SNAC totals 24 members with representation from 15 FNS programs across nine agencies within South Carolina. All five meetings were well-attended and very productive. Coalition members have eagerly participated and presented during the past few months. For the first time, all the South Carolina FNS programs are working together cooperatively, meeting regularly to share program information and discuss ways to address obesity, increase food security, and improve food access.
South Carolina SNAC is in the process of selecting and implementing our first initiative. We are working toward identifying an initiative that resonates with all coalition members. Once an initiative is selected, a plan will be developed to implement and evaluate it. We will continue to facilitate educational learning opportunities during coalition meetings. Each program, agency, and essential partner will have an opportunity to highlight their program during monthly meetings. Active participation in these meetings will allow the coalition to continue building on our knowledge of each program, bridge gaps between services, and connect vital resources to the clients we serve.
Toolkit: A Guide for Developing State Level, Cross-Program Partnerships to Reduce Obesity
In 2018, PHI’s Center for Wellness and Nutrition introduced the State Nutrition Action Council (SNAC) Toolkit. This Toolkit provides a guide for organizations struggling with how to inject new life into their obesity-prevention programs and refresh their partnership development skills. It also maps out ways to recruit and retain partners, choose an initiative, develop a plan, implement, and lastly monitor and evaluate the progress of the project.