Modified: May 27, 2021 2:15pm

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Six Erie County programs and initiatives have been recognized by the National Association of Counties (“NACo”) with 2021 Achievement Awards, presented to counties and state associations nationwide in recognition of innovative county government programs across eighteen categories that strengthen services for residents. Included among the awards is a 2021 Achievement Award for the county’s “Erie Grown” program in the category of Community and Economic Development; Erie Grown’s exceptional results and unique program innovations also earned it the honor of “Best in Category.”


“Being honored by NACo with six 2021 Achievement Awards is tremendous recognition of the hard work that Erie County employees do to provide services and programs to the public, even during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “These awards span numerous categories, each a good example of how Erie County supports residents and brings people together, and receiving ‘Best in Category’ recognition for our new Erie Grown initiative is a big honor for the Erie County Office of Agriculture team and I thank them, and all of our award-winning teams, for their work.”


Agriculture and agriculture-related businesses in Erie County and across the region have been hit particularly hard by COVID-19. Disruption of supply chains, loss of institutional food service customers, closure of restaurants, lack of available seasonal farm labor, and low milk/commodity prices have all combined to wreak havoc on farmers and growers’ ability to earn a living providing healthy food to the community. Erie County Executive Mark C Poloncarz created the Office of Agriculture in 2020 to address the loss of farmland, improve the viability of farming, and assist rural municipalities with planning for agriculture. In order to facilitate this objective, the Office of Agriculture created the Erie Grown website to promote locally grown and in-season produce as well as maple syrup, honey, and agritourism activities. The goal is to better connect consumers to farmers, farmers markets, and local foods by linking available goods with those who would like to buy them.


Erie County also received a 2021 Achievement Award for its “RSI COVID-19 Shelter in Erie County, NY” program in the category of Human Services, along with:


  • a 2021 Achievement Award for the “Erie County NY Opiate Epidemic Task Force” program in the category of Health;


  • a 2021 Achievement Award for the “Erie County NY Virtual Learning Support Centers” program in the category of Children and Youth;


  • a 2021 Achievement Award for the “Erie County NY SNAP On-Demand Call Center” program in the category of County Administration and Management; and,


  • a 2021 Achievement Award for the “Erie County NY Cultural Funding Program” in the category of Arts, Culture and Historic Preservation.



Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein said, “Recognition for good work done is always appreciated and underscores the importance and value of what we are doing here in Erie County. To receive awards for both the COVID-19 shelter program and the Opiate Epidemic Task Force shows that we have been proactive and successful in protecting public health against two of the biggest issues we have faced. We will continue to actively identify and pursue programs and initiatives that keep our residents safe.”


“When the pandemic hit, we immediately understood that we would need to change the way we deliver services in order to reach residents who were now in more critical need than ever. This meant streamlining access to important programs like SNAP and also finding ways to help children and families navigate an academic environment that was changing due to COVID-19 restrictions,” added Marie A. Cannon, Commissioner of Social Services. “Erie County was the only county in New York to fund Virtual Learning Support Centers, bringing vital aid to parents of school-aged children who needed safe, staffed non-school venues for their children to continue their education. The VLSCs were a big success and the credit goes to the great team that worked to make them a reality.”





For more information:


On the National Association of Counties, visit    




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