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Commissioner presents Hunger Champions Award to Anoka County

Commissioner Jesson, right, presented the USDA Food and Nutrition Services Outreach Coalition 2011 Hunger Champions Award to Anoka County Human Services Director of Economic Assistance Jerry Vitzthum, left, holding award. Anoka County Financial Assistance Specialist Sonya Traisci, second from left, and Program Support Supervisor Christine Plombon also received Jesson’s congratulations.

Commissioner Lucinda Jesson presented the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Services Outreach Coalition 2011 Hunger Champions Award to Anoka County at the Nutritious Food Coalition meeting held at 444 Lafayette Tuesday. The USDA recently announced the Gold, Silver and Bronze 2011 Hunger Champions Award winners for exceptional customer services to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participants.

Anoka County Human Services, the only Minnesota recipient, and the other award winners employed strategies to ease and expedite the application process, improve public awareness, reach underserved groups and educate participants about healthy eating.
“Anoka County has done great work in so many different areas,” said Commissioner Jesson as she presented the award. “We know that and now the USDA has recognized that as well.”
Currently more than 500,000 Minnesotans receive SNAP benefits each month. Only 65 percent of eligible Minnesotans and 44 percent — a recent 3 percent increase — of eligible seniors, age 60 and over, receive these benefits.
“We believe we know the reasons why people don’t participate,” Jesson said. “Stigma, accessibility problems, and unfamiliarity with the process and eligibility requirements all play a part in this. Anoka County Human Services is a fine example of an agency that has worked hard to overcome these obstacles to ensure those eligible for the program have access to it. We extend our congratulations to Anoka County Human Services for its good work on behalf of those most in need of nutritious food.”
More information is available on the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services website  and in a DHS news release about the award.

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