James City County Social Services Receives National Food Stamps Award
Date: March 31, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Renee Dallman, Communications Specialist
Phone: (757) 253-6864
James City County Department of Social Services has received the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Services’ (FNS) Hunger Champion Honorable Mentor Award. The award is designed to recognize local offices that use innovative strategies to enroll people in the Food Stamps program, increase program participation and ensure people in need have access to nutrition information and benefits.
James City County DSS is one of only eight agencies nationwide to receive the Honorable Mentor Award. USDA selected the Hunger Champions from 81 nominations by state and local offices and advocacy organizations serving communities across the country.
The department’s success is the result of networking and the development of community partnerships. “A couple of years ago, our participation rate was very low. We knew that was an area we needed to work on,” explained James City County DSS Chief of Eligibility Tom Little. The department developed an outreach plan and sought out community groups. “We started working with non-profit agencies in the area and it just grew. We used our community partnerships to help get out information and applications and also utilized the online screening tool and online application. It’s worked. Our Food Stamps enrollment is up 50 percent from just a couple of years ago,” Little said. “It really comes down to getting the information out and removing some of the mystery about applying for assistance.”
Hunger Champion certificates were also presented to Fredericksburg, Henrico County, and Prince Edward County departments of social services.
“These agencies are commended for their initiative and creativity to look beyond their increasing workloads to identify new and better ways to serve the needy individuals and families in their localities,” said VDSS Director of Benefit Programs Tom Steinhauser.