Jefferson County Health Department’s Environmental Division implemented an “Award of Excellence” program for food facilities in Jefferson County. The goal of the award program is to recognize food establishments in Jefferson County who make quality improvements and strive for high standards in food service. With over 1,000 establishments in the county, a total of 67 nominations were identified in February and 7 winners were awarded at the end of March.
The Award of Excellence program started at the health department last year with the objective of increasing community outreach efforts through an industry recognition program. “We modeled our program based on a successful program in Fairfax, Virginia. We were thrilled to award our first recipients in March and personally thank them for their contributions to food safety,” stated Environmental Public Health Specialist, Nicole Diekman.
Facilities qualified for an award nomination by upholding high food safety standards and meeting strict criteria put forth under the 2013 Jefferson County Food Code. Food service facilities who received 1 or fewer critical (priority) violations over the past year on routine inspections were eligible for nomination. The nominees were given a window cling to proudly display on the entrance of their establishment.
Each nominee was then asked to write a letter to the environmental team at Jefferson County Health Department explaining why they believe their establishment should win the award. In total, 32 letters were sent in and reviewed by Jefferson County Health Department Environmental Public Health Specialists. “The Award of Excellence is a great way to honor the establishments that are dedicated to serving safe food to our community,” stated Environmental Public Health Specialist, Reggie Weiss.
Seven establishments from various parts of Jefferson County were identified as winners in March. These establishments include: Firm Foundations Christian Academy, Arnold MO; Wild Sun Winery- Hillsboro, MO; Twin City Residential Program- Crystal City, MO; Dar E Kreme- Cedar Hill, MO; Comtrea Adult Psychiatric Rehabilitation Program- Festus, MO; Company B BBQ- Byrnes Mill, MO; Simpson Elementary- Arnold, MO.
In addition to receiving a plaque to display at their establishments, winners will also have their permit fees waived for the next year. “We are glad to have been able to recognize the hard work and diligence of establishments that have provided safe food practices in our county. We look forward to continued efforts from our winners and hope to create an atmosphere of food safety excellence throughout the county,” stated Environmental Supervisor, Charles Colson.