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Kalamazoo County Department of Human Services receives Hunger Champion Award from U.S. Department of Agriculture

Contact: Edward Woods III, communications director, 517-373-7394
Agency: Human Services

Feb. 23, 2009

Michigan Department of Human Services Director Ismael Ahmed today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has recognized the Kalamazoo County Department of Human Services for "exemplary service conducting outreach activities and assisting eligible clients to obtain nutrition benefits under the federal food assistance program."

"This is a real honor for Kalamazoo County and our department," Ahmed said. "Only 10 awards were granted nationally and there were more than 80 nominees. We're very pleased we were recognized at the federal level for our innovative strategies and creative partnerships."

The Kalamazoo County DHS received the recognition as part of the USDA's 2008 Hunger Champion Mentor awards program. As a result, representatives from the department will be invited to the American Public Human Services Association's spring conference in Washington, D.C., April 5-7 to share their successful outreach strategies with other states and the USDA's Food and Nutrition Service.

Kalamazoo County's successful outreach strategies included: 

  • Providing wheelchairs for clients needing help getting from the parking lot to the building.
  • Stationing workers at substance abuse treatment centers, homeless shelters, schools and hospitals.
  • Reducing the waiting time in the office lobby.
  • Providing clothing for clients, Spanish-speaking voicemail and receptionists, and information on summer camps and health clinics available in the lobby.

Michigan's Food Assistance Program is a modern nutrition program that delivers benefits electronically, reducing the stigma of participation and achieving payment accuracy that ensures the highest level of program integrity. Through nutrition education partners, the program helps clients learn to make healthy eating and active lifestyle choices.

In December there were 646,665 families, including 1,347,326 recipients, receiving food assistance statewide. Kalamazoo County reported 17,343 cases and 33,263 recipients.

For more information, please visit the DHS Web site at www.michigan.gov/dhs.

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