Representatives of the Allentown Department of Community & Economic Development and the city Health Bureau may have lost out on a trip to the governor’s mansion, but they now have the hardware from two Governor’s Awards for Local Government Excellence.
The city’s Vision 2030 comprehensive planning effort was determined to best exemplify the theme of “Innovative Planning and Sound Land Use Practices.”
The city’s “Healthy Kids Healthy Allentown” anti-hunger effort best exemplified the theme of “Health and Wellness Initiatives.” Working together, partner organizations provided meals to approximately 100 locations during the summer of 2019, serving a total of 69,300 meals to youth, a 23% increase from the summer of 2018.
Both were expected to be presented at the official Local Government Day Awards Ceremony on April 8 at the Governor’s Residence however the ceremony was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Governor’s Awards for Local Government Excellence recognize local officials for their successes in undertaking innovative initiatives to improve the quality of life in their communities. There is only one winner across the state in each of ten categories. Allentown is the only multiple winner.
Mayor Ray O’Connell said, “Allentown Vision 2030 was a huge undertaking and DCED pulled it all together. The health bureau has enthusiastically tackled the issue of getting healthy meals to city children through the summer meals program and our Firehouse Fridays program. I am very proud of DCED Director Leonard Lightner, Health Bureau Director Vicky Kistler and their staffs for their efforts which have brought them well earned recognition.”
The nearly 250-page Allentown Vision 2030 document provides a coordinated and collaborative approach for city departments and bureaus, and the city’s public, private, nonprofit, and institutional partners to work together on plan implementation.
Partnerships are critical to the success of Allentown Vision 2030 and are the foundation of the Plan. The city is committed to cultivating existing partnerships and exploring new and innovative ways to work together as we implement Allentown Vision 2030.
The Vision 2030 plan renewed engagement and dialog between the city and community. The city has more than 60 community members that have committed to being Community Ambassadors; Ambassadors to represent the City of Allentown and their neighborhoods, agreeing to be part of neighborhood planning working in conjunction with the bureau of planning on neighborhood planning, and the implementation of projects within their neighborhoods.
The summer meals program sought to increase the approximately 8% of eligible children who received summer meals to 20%. Additional program sites made these meals easier to access and encouraged families and kids who struggle with food dollars and food insecurity to come to a site close to them for a free meal.