RUMFORD – The River Valley Healthy Communities Coalition has received grants to address underage drinking, lead poisoning and better nutrition.

Patricia Duguay, executive director of the coalition, said $32,928 was received from the National Office of Substance Abuse, through the state’s Office of Substance Abuse, in conjunction with area police departments. The funds will be used to add extra police patrols to identify underage drinking parties, organize call-out teams to handle such problems, train youth to try to buy alcohol to assure that everyone is carded, and make people aware of ways underage consumers are able to buy alcoholic beverages.

She said the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office, the Maine State Police, and the police departments of Mexico, Rumford, Dixfield and Fryeburg will each receive $4,560 to use for extra patrols.

Rumford police Chief Stacey Carter said the law enforcement agencies will meet with the healthy communities coalition to devise a plan of action.

He said such parties generally take place during the summer or early autumn, and when they do, additional people are needed to contact parents and put an end to parties.

Another grant of $49,982, in partnership with the River Valley Growth Council, will be shared with Healthy Oxford Hills. Its aim is to improve nutrition throughout Oxford County by bringing sources for all nutrition-related programs under one umbrella.

It comes from the United States Department of Agriculture, through the Maine Nutrition Network.

Duguay said the plan calls for developing a publication listing the locations of food pantries and farm stands and how to provide inexpensive ways to feed families.

Public input will be called for, and cooperative efforts between the healthy communities coalition and the growth council’s agricultural committee will be part of the plan. A draft plan is expected to be completed by November 2009.

The third grant, for $5,000, will provide as assessment of lead poisoning incidents in Franklin and Oxford counties. Materials will be developed for distribution throughout the two counties related to the potential for lead poisoning.

The grant is administered by the state Environmental and Occupational Health programs and comes from a federal program that assesses a dollar amount on each can of paint sold.

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