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Bamberg County Health Coalition coordinator snags award from sorority for promoting community wellness
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Bamberg County Health Coalition coordinator snags award from sorority for promoting community wellness

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The coordinator of Denmark-based initiative designed to promote the health and wellness of Bamberg County residents was recently awarded for her efforts by the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. 

Lara Buss, coordinator of the Bamberg County Health Coalition, received the AKA South Atlantic Region Award for Women's Health Care and Wellness during the sorority's 67th South Atlantic Regional Conference.

"I have had several complements on the beauty and uniqueness of the Alpha Kappa Alpha award. I am humbled ... and I promise to keep up the good work!" Buss said.

The Coalition applied for a Blueprint for Health Grant through the South Carolina Office of Rural Health in 2019. As part of the application, Buss engaged and added new leaders to the initiative, including the recruitment of members of the AKA sorority.

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Buss reached out to Bamberg County resident Lisa Stokes, vice president and program chairman of the sorority's Nu Tau Omega Chapter. Stokes recruited four sorors to join the Coalition's Blueprint for Health Leadership Team.

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Over a nine-month period, the leadership team met to decide on a community project that would keep the social determinants of health in mind and create a long-term vision for community wellness.

Ultimately, Buss and the leadership team decided to partner with FoodShare of South Carolina to become a Bamberg County partner site for the packaging and distribution of fresh food boxes.

"Our FoodShare efforts have been funded by the City of Bamberg, Bamberg County Board of Public Works, Southeastern Housing and Community Development, Tri-County Health Network, South Carolina Association for Community Economic Development and Bamberg Legal," Buss said.

FoodShare's vision is to ensure community access to fresh produce, with the Coalition playing a key role in helping to build a sustainably healthy local food economy. Community members are able to use their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits to purchase fresh food boxes for their families.

While supporting the development of a local food economy that empowers residents of all ages and backgrounds, the project's overall goal is to also decrease the incidence of chronic disease.

Buss recruits volunteers from the Coalition's 74 members every two weeks for FoodShare Bamberg box packing and distribution. Moving forward, she will lead the Coalition by expanding FoodShare distribution days as an opportunity to provide the community with information on healthy living resources and services.

The Coalition will also use these days as an opportunity to hold events such as health screenings and enrolling community members in programs such as cooking demonstrations, chronic disease prevention and healthy living workshops.

Contact the writer: dgleaton@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5534. Follow "Good News with Gleaton" on Twitter at @DionneTandD

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