The Catawba County Public Health Farmers Market, designed to improve community health by increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables, with a focus on WIC recipients, has received this year’s highest honor for innovation in local government from The Innovations Group.
Staff from Catawba County received the J. Robert Havlick Award at a luncheon in Phoenix, Arizona on Monday afternoon. The Farmers Market was selected from among more than 80 submissions from across the United States.
The Innovations Groups’ annual awards program recognizes outstanding achievements in local government innovation, with one local government, its internal champion(s) and its innovation acknowledged with the Havlick Award, which honors the Innovations Group founder.
In partnership with the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, the Public Health Farmers Market’s goal is to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables while also providing a new outlet for locally grown produce.
WIC clients receive Farmers Market Nutritional Program vouchers when available to supplement their WIC food benefits with fresh, local produce during the summer months. Of the customers surveyed in the summer of 2014, 84.4% said the market helped increase the amount of fresh produce their family ate. For surveyed WIC clients, that number was 94.6%.
“One of our goals for the Farmers Market is to increase the rate of redemption of WIC Farmers Market vouchers. Following the market’s second season, the WIC program had the highest redemption rate, 64.37%, of Farmers Market Nutritional Program vouchers in North Carolina in 2014,” said Julie Byrd, WIC Director.
According to the Innovation Group, programs that receive the Havlick Award must demonstrate one or more of the following:
• how the program successfully addressed an important dilemma of public service delivery concerns;
• how it had a positive impact and tremendous benefit to the community or jurisdiction;
• a quantum leap of creativity;
• the government’s commitment and support of bringing the innovation to life;
• service delivery improvements and/or efficiencies;
• organizational improvement because of the innovation;
• tangible effectiveness and results.
A case study on the Catawba County Public Health Farmers Market was to be presented at the Innovations Group annual conference on Tuesday, April 14. The Farmers Market program also won a 2014 National Association of Counties (NACo) Achievement Award. A video detailing the Farmers Market may be seen online.