The Van Buren County SAFE Coalition is working to combat underage drinking. Residents may not realize that preventing alcohol abuse begins with effective policies and procedures. “It’s common to think of law enforcement as the primary way to stop teen drinking through arrests and citations,” said Kris Rankin, Van Buren County’s Iowa Partnerships for Success Coordinator. “It is clear that law enforcement is a vital part of the network that is working to prevent and stop underage drinking and youth binge drinking; however, actions taken at the city and private facility level are also key to creating a healthy and safe environment for teens and adults.”
A good example of this is Keosauqua’s Bandshell Rental Policy that requires adult supervision of events with participants under 21 years of age, that no alcohol be provided to anyone under the age of 21 at an event, a higher deposit for events with alcohol being served or sold at them, that alcohol be consumed in a fenced portion of the property where participants under the age of 21 are not allowed, and if cash bars are used, they must provide proof of dram shop insurance and have a valid liquor sales license.
The SAFE Coalition is available to work with residents, organizations and community leaders to prevent underage drinking and to help develop appropriate policies for their location. Residents are encouraged to learn about and advocate for strong alcohol-related policies. The coalition offers free Merchant Alcohol Trainings where servers are trained in the best practices of alcohol service to keep alcohol out of the hands of youth in the county. The coalition also has an ID Scanner that can be rented to use during any event in the Van Buren County area.
The SAFE Coalition received the Iowa Partnerships for Success Grant in February, 2015 to address underage drinking and underage binge drinking in Van Buren County. The Iowa Partnerships for Success Grant is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention and is administered by the Iowa Department of Public Health.