Earlier today, the Foundation for Healthy Kentucky made an exciting announcement. Valerie Horn, a retired school counselor and advocate from Whitesburg, is the latest Healthy Kentucky Policy Champion. Horn is passionate about creating a healthier Appalachia. Because of her dedication, residents of Letcher County now have the opportunity to eat and live healthier.
Horn chairs the Whitesburg/Letcher County Farmers Market, directs the Grow Appalachia Program at the Cowan Community Action Group, and has served as the Letcher County project director for Appal-TREE, a Community Farm Alliance research and demonstration program that includes a summer food service for area children, healthy cooking classes and a campaign the encourages middle and high school students to choose water over sugary drinks. Horn also was "the inspiration" for the Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation (MCHC) "Farmacy" program, under which doctors prescribe fresh fruits and vegetables to patients who can obtain them at no cost from the farmer's market, said MCHC CEO Mike Caudill.
"The Farmacy Program has directly benefitted several thousand people in our area and has contributed over $500,000 to the local economy," Caudill said in nominating Horn for the award. "Thanks to Mrs. Horn's hard work and passion, this program has continued to be a success and has even been replicated in other communities and is a best practice."
Jared Arnett, executive director of Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR), said, "Mrs. Horn understands the impact food has on the culture of a community, and strives to bring healthy food into people's homes. She is not afraid of a challenge and works hard to meet people where they are, so that she can help meet the needs of her community."
Foundation CEO Ben Chandler surprised Horn with the award at the Regional Community Health Forum at CANE in Whitesburg today.
"The policy changes that Valerie Horn has championed and helped implement are giving the people of her home community the opportunity to eat and live healthier," Chandler said. "She is also working to bring together people representing various sectors - farmers, community health care and cultural organizations, and schools - to ensure that Letcher County residents can bring home and use fresh produce and other healthy foods. These cross-sector coalitions are key to improving health in a community."
The Foundation's Healthy Kentucky Policy Champion award honors individuals and organizations that are engaged in improving the health of Kentuckians through policy change. Horn is now eligible for the Gil Friedell Policy Champion Award, which comes with a $5,000 grant from the Foundation to a Kentucky-based nonprofit of the winner's choice. The winner of the Friedell award will be announced at the Foundation's Howard L. Bost Memorial Health Policy Forum on September 23 in Lexington.
Nominations for Healthy Kentucky Policy Champion awards are accepted at any time. See details on the Foundation's website.