The Alaska Division of Agriculture recognized employees at the Wasilla Walmart Wednesday for their efforts promoting local food.

Staff with the division, part of the state Department of Natural Resources, presented the store manager with the Golden Carrot award Wednesday morning.

The Wasilla Walmart was one of 40 stores that participated in the state's Alaska Grown $5 Challenge last summer. The program's goal is to get people to spend at least $5 a week on local fruits and veggies.

"The retail market is something that we have to continue to develop," said David Schade, the division's acting director. "And Walmart has really stepped into the lead as being a corporate sponsor of local grown and working with the local economy."

Staff decided the Wasilla Walmart had the best display of all the stores and made the challenge fun for customers.

"It's super-awesome to see the associates and how proud they are of everything they've done," said store manager Helena Burkett. "It means a lot to us as a store to be such a big member of the community."

The 2019 Alaska Grown Challenge begins in May.

If every Alaskan spent $5 a week on local food, the Alaska Farm Bureau estimates that would have a $188 million economic impact.

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