Gov. Whitmer treats MDHHS employees to lunch for 'Simple Gifts' ideas that streamline and improve services for residents, staff; Honorees come from offices throughout the state, including Metro Detroit, West Michigan, Lansing, Flint, Northern Michigan


CONTACT: Bob Wheaton, 517-241-2112

LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Whitmer today honored more than 30 Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) employees whose winning ideas were selected as part of the Simple Gifts Contest. 

The department-wide competition encouraged staff to submit ideas that can make it faster and easier for Michiganders to access MDHHS benefits. There were 331 entries submitted. Some of the winning ideas included:

  • Multiple suggestions to simplify asset tests, which are a factor in determining eligibility for public assistance benefits such as food assistance. MDHHS has adopted some of these ideas, which came from staff at the Central Office in Lansing, and county offices in Branch and Lake counties.
  • A Genesee County employee suggested making computers with printers available in each office for clients to print needed items.
  • An Ingham County employee encouraged taking steps to make sure people who receive public assistance benefits know the importance of providing a phone number when applying.

“State of Michigan employees – including MDHHS staff – work hard, care about the people they serve, and have great ideas based on their personal experiences as public servants,” Whitmer said. “I appreciate the outstanding suggestions that came out of the Simple Gifts contest. Michiganders who benefit from the changes also will be grateful. These ideas will help Michigan families and result in better services to taxpayers.”

A panel of MDHHS leaders selected winning entries that outlined specific and actionable steps; offered solutions that could be carried out without legislative action; could enable MDHHS to serve more families and individuals who qualify for and need services; and are likely to have significant benefits to clients and workers – such as eliminating unnecessary paperwork or speeding up decisions on eligibility for services.

Whitmer hosted a celebratory lunch at the George W. Romney Building near the State Capitol for winners in the Simple Gifts contest. Also in attendance were MDHHS Director Robert Gordon and Erin Frisch, MDHHS chief deputy director for opportunity.

“We are grateful to work with colleagues who are passionate about economic stability and opportunity for all Michiganders,” Gordon said. “We aim to simplify everything we do. The winning Simple Gift ideas advance toward that goal. We will implement as many as we can as quickly as we can.” 

A full list of Simple Gift winners can be found on the MDHHS website.

Note: Media members who would like photos of winners from their coverage areas can contact

# # #