February 29th, 2024

lacf forum previewROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times


The Liberal Area Coalition for Families is inviting business leaders and organization executives from Seward County to attend a business forum next week.

LACF Director Sarah Foreman said the Pathways to a Healthy Kansas Business Forum, which will take place July 18 at the Rock Island Depot, is an opportunity to learn and discuss how to get involved in efforts to improve the health of county residents.

“It’s part of our Blue Cross Blue Shield Pathways grant,” she said. “It’s an informational luncheon to see if businesses want to participate in our Worksite Wellness Pathway. It will have people from KU Worksite Wellness describing what the Pathway would entail for them. It’ll be a time to hear about what the coalition is doing with some of the Blue Cross Blue Shield funds, what our plans are and then just hear from Blue Cross Blue Shield directly.”

Pathways to a Healthy Kansas is a major community grant program, funded by BCBS of Kansas, that provides community coalitions with the tools and resources needed to remove barriers and engage their communities in ways that enable healthy eating and tobacco-free, active living to become a way of life.

As one of eight grant recipients for the 2017-2020 funding period, Seward County may receive up to $500,000 in non-competitive grants for coordination, implementation and achievement during that period.

Foreman said LACF is working with the community on the focus areas of community policy, resident and community well being, the food retail sector, health care, restaurants, schools and worksites.

“We work on it each week,” she said. “There’s seven different Pathways we’re working on to be completed in three years. Each of them require a significant amount of planning. The school district, we’re working with their wellness team to tweak some of their existing policies to make them at what we call modeling level. Once we get board approval from that, then we can move forward on the different projects at each of the schools.”

Foreman said right now, LACF is working on the worksite pathway, and this will be part of next week’s luncheon. She added an introduction to what that actual pathway is will be given to interested businesses at an event on Aug. 2.

“If they do choose to come up with a comprehensive worksite wellness plan, each employer is eligible for up to $10,000 in achievement grant funds,” she said. “Those aren’t competitive grant funds. It’s something the coalition has already received, and we just want to partner with them to make their worksites tobacco free, more active or have healthier options there.”

One project LACF is working on is in conjunction with Seward County Community College to create a walking path near that campus. Foreman said the steering committee for that project was scheduled to meet for the first time today.

“It’s a group of about five of us with representation from the bigger entities in town meeting with PedNet,” she said. “That has started. We’ve been working on that for about a month. That plan, from start to completion, takes about six months.”

The Pathways grant, Foreman said, is one of several grants the coalition is currently receiving.

“We have a Civic Engagement Voter Registration grant Kay Burtzloff works primarily on she had set up and two of our staff help her with that,” she said. “What we’re simply trying to do is increase awareness about voting rights, how to register to get your vote out. They set up, I want to say almost weekly, to give people the chance to register to vote.”

LACF likewise has a grant from the Kansas Health Foundation, which Foreman said is helping local provider Genesis Health Care expand its services in medical, dental and behavioral health.

“We are a underserved area out here with access to those things,” she said. “That also is a four-year grant, and we’re on year two of that.” 

LACF is also in its second round of the Strategic Prevention Framework State Incentives Grant (SPF SIG), which primarily concentrates on preventing underage drinking. The coalition is again working with SCCC on several projects to fund alcohol alternative activities. This round of the SPF SIG grant is in its second year.

LACF initially received the SPF SIG grant in 2008. Foreman said that grant ran for four years, and after taking a break, funds became available and were awarded to the coalition.

Coalition members were also scheduled to talk about another project today.

“Liberal was chosen to be a recipient of an opioid receptacle dropbox,” Foreman said. “It’s not a competitive grant. We were just chosen for it, and we’ll meet (today) to kind of determine the location and best use of those funds to get one of those boxes.”

Foreman said the box will be similar to a prescription dropbox.

“It’ll need to be at a secure location that’s monitored,” she said. “We’re hoping to work with the police department, make it to their specs and what they would like. It’ll just be a box where people can safely dispose of expired medication.”

Another grant Foreman said LACF has received is the Learn and Play grant, and after taking a summer break, the program will be started up again in August.

“It’s at First Baptist Church, and it’s for children birth to 5 and their caregivers,” she said. “Each time a family attends that, they’re given a free incentive to take home – a book, an activity, something to do with Mom and Dad or caregiver. We’re in our fifth year of that grant.”

Foreman said none of the work the coalition does would be possible without the help of community partners.

“None of our grants do we want to be solely Liberal Area Coalition for Families, but we want it to be Liberal Area Coalition for Families in partnership with several other agencies and organizations,” she said.

The July 18 business forum will run from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Depot. Foreman said event officials would like to have participants RSVP.

“We are catering a healthy lunch in partnership with Bisteca,” she said. “We just kind of need to know how many meals we should provide. They can do that by RSVPing to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or calling the Coalition for Families number at 655-7177.”