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Riverside County honors five ‘community champions’ for health

This year’s five Public Health Champions have been named.

Each year, Riverside University Health System — Public Health recognizes individuals and groups for helping improve the health of Riverside County residents. The honorees were saluted at the Tuesday, April 2, Riverside County Board of Supervisors meeting.

“These individuals and organizations have stepped up and gone beyond what would normally be expected of them,” Kim Saruwatari, director of Riverside University Healthcare System – Public Health, said in a news release. “They have seen the importance of giving back to the community and their efforts have benefited many residents.”

The winners represent each of the county’s five supervisorial districts. They are:

District 1: Riverside Food System Alliance
The group supports healthier eating through farmer training, connecting growers to farmland and restaurants to farmers. It also has prevented food waste and supported community gardens.

District 2: Vonya Quarles
Quarles co-founded Starting Over Inc., which offers transitional housing and reentry services. She has worked with public health officials and others to address health, housing and to assist those who were once incarcerated.

District 3: San Jacinto Unified School District’s Nutrition Services Department
Its recent projects include hydration stations at each school, coordinating Sports, Play, and Active Recreation for Kids training for 40 teachers, measuring cafeteria food waste and finding ways to address the amount of uneaten food.

District 4: The Rev. Benita Ramsey
Ramsey has been a planning council support manager for the Inland Empire HIV Planning Council and a principal consultant for BRMG Management Group. She has also served as a community consultant to Riverside University Health System-Behavioral Health, Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Outreach Initiatives and as board president of Rainbow Pride Youth Alliance.

District 5: Deborah Franklin
Franklin has supported public health in Banning. While she was a Banning city councilwoman, the city adopted a Healthy Eating Active Living resolution and created the Healthy Banning Initiative.

The Press-Enterprise

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