KC Healthy Kids brings on Kansas Alliance for Wellness in 2020



KC Healthy Kids and the American Heart Association are thrilled to jointly announce a new chapter in food systems work in Kansas. The association has coordinated the Kansas Alliance for Wellness since its inception in 2013, working with coalitions and food and farm councils across the state to improve the health of Kansans.

Effective January 1, 2020 the American Heart Association will pass the torch to KC Healthy Kids, which will become the new coordinating organization for the Kansas Alliance for Wellness.

Here’s what each agency wants you to know about this transition:


We at the American Heart Association have truly enjoyed working with KAW partners and food and farm councils, and have learned alongside you.

We’ve realized that the work to transform our food system is much broader than just health policy—it includes agricultural policies, land use policies, institutional purchasing policies, economic development and more. That’s why we searched for an organization with proven advocacy expertise in all of the policy areas that food systems touch so that you can continue to make progress.

KC Healthy Kids is just that organization! They partner with communities and organizations to advance policies and environmental changes that improve access to affordable, fresh food and safe places to walk and play. In 2007 they began collaborating with farmers, consumers, health advocates, funders and numerous community groups to establish what would become the Greater KC Food Policy Coalition, and they have continued to do groundbreaking work in food systems policy at the local and state level.

Again, it’s been a real joy getting to work with you all to improve the health of our Kansas communities

Here at KC Healthy Kids, we’re eager to learn more about your goals and needs, and to share our experience and resources to support that work.

Over the past 15 years, we’ve helped shape local policies to support farmers markets, community gardens and grocery access, and state policies related to food security, local sourcing and the state sales tax on food. On a national level, we’ve rallied advocates to speak out for policies within the Farm Bill and Child Nutrition Reauthorization legislation that will benefit our communities.

And now we can’t wait to get started working with you!

To ensure a smooth transition, KC Healthy Kids is starting the hiring process now for the new Kansas Alliance for Wellness director.


FAQs about Kansas Alliance for Wellness 2020 Transition

Why is the Kansas Alliance for Wellness moving from the American Heart Association to KC Healthy Kids?
The American Heart Association has extensive policy knowledge in health policy and specifically worked with alliance partners and food and farm councils on healthy food and beverage environments. However, as councils’ work has evolved over the years, the policy areas that councils are working in have diversified beyond health policy. Therefore, key stakeholders worked to identify a new home for the alliance—one that would bring new policy advocacy areas to the alliance.

 KC Healthy Kids’ policy efforts are led by Beth Low-Smith, vice president of policy. She brings two decades of experience in policy advocacy and coalition management, including three terms as a Missouri legislator and a decade as director of the Greater KC Food Policy Coalition, which she helped to formalize in 2010. Food and farm policy efforts during her tenure have included local policies to support farmers markets, community gardens and grocery access, state policies relating to food security and local sourcing, and much more. Beth will work with KC Healthy Kids team members, including a new director (see job posting) and Eileen Horn, project consultant, to meet the evolving needs of alliance partners and councils around the state.

When will the transition take place?
The official hand-off will occur January 1, 2020. However, the transition work has already begun. KC Healthy Kids has published the new Kansas Alliance for Wellness director job posting, and hopes to have a new person on board by mid-September. Also, KC Healthy Kids has contracted with Eileen Horn, a food systems policy consultant and co-founder of the Douglas County Food Policy Council, to support the alliance during the transition. The American Heart Association team will continue working with Beth Low-Smith, Eileen Horn and the new KAW director to ensure a smooth transition throughout. 

Will KC Healthy Kids work only in the Kansas City metro area?
No, definitely not. Kansas Alliance for Wellness will remain a statewide effort.

Is the KAW convening still happening?
Yes! Mark your calendars for September 26-27 in Wichita. Details coming soon.

Will my food and farm council still have technical assistance and support after the transition?
Yes, absolutely! The new director and staff at KC Healthy Kids will provide ongoing support to all of the food and farm councils in Kansas. Once the new director is on board, we’ll reach out to you to find out how we can best support you and your work.

So, who do I contact before January 2020?
Tina Khan (launchtk@gmail.com) and Kolia Souza (ksouza@ksu.edu) will remain on contract with the American Heart Association through December 2019 to continue to work with you all. They’ll still be your main points-of-contact for any projects you’re working on now. 

And then after January?
Once KC Healthy Kids hires a new director, we’ll introduce them to you. If you have questions about KC Healthy Kids now, you can always contact Beth Low-Smith, vice president for policy, at blsmith@kchealthykids.org.

What about my Kansas Alliance for Wellness mini-grant?
If you’ve already received your KAW mini-grant, you’ll continue to report to the American Heart Association through Missty Lechner. If you’re thinking of a future KAW mini-grant, contact Tina Khan (launchtk@gmail.com) soon, as funds are mostly committed at this point.

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