Food for People

The Food Bank for Humboldt County

Food for People Staff Member, Heidi McHugh, Nominated for a Freshy Award

Left to Right: Sharon, Ciel, and Heidi McHugh

Food for People's very own Heidi McHugh has been nominated for Outreach Leader of the Year in the Freshy Awards.

The Freshy Awards honor the actions of individual Californians and organizations from across the state that have worked diligently in the last year to improve CalFresh. The winners are nominated by and selected for a Freshy Award based on the input of Californians from across the state. There will be one winner from each category. Winners will be announced and acknowledged at the 2018 CalFresh Forum in March. The three categories for the Freshy Awards include Administrator of the Year, Grassroots Mobilizer of the Year and Outreach Leader of the Year. 

You can cast your vote here. 

Anyone who works with Heidi is able to witness her tenacity on a daily basis and how she injects it into her CalFresh outreach. I think it's safe to use the word "obsessed" in describing Heidi's desire to find the most efficient, direct, and easiest to navigate tools for helping the people of our rural county get through the door to applying for and maintaining CalFresh.

Heidi worked closely with Humboldt County DHHS staff to pilot “CalFresh in a Day” in Humboldt County, through which households at the food bank can complete the entire process on-site (receive application assistance, immediate transmission of app and documentation, and phone interview from food bank). When needed, this helps increase access for those with rural transportation challenges or uniquely vulnerable circumstances. Heidi's heart is so big that she makes home visits to help frail and homebound clients apply for CalFresh, and she, of course, follows the process all the way to the end.

Heidi thoroughly prepares households for what it takes to maintain benefits. In addition, she leads an Outreach team that utilizes a case management system for calling clients a few days after providing application assistance, to be sure they’ve completed or scheduled their eligibility interview, then again to verify whether they’ve received benefits or need further assistance, and yet again to see whether assistance is needed for completing Semi-Annual Reports or recertification. Heidi works with County staff to clear up any questions on recent applications submitted, to keep the eligibility process moving quickly for all.

For more than six years, Heidi has brought passion and excellence to her field. She is known both for her thorough and compassionate work with clients and her drive for elevating the field of CalFresh Outreach itself, especially as it applies to remote, rural communities. She puts as much energy into doing high-quality, on-the-ground CalFresh Outreach work with food bank households as she does on the big picture of continually improving access to CalFresh, improving processes, maintaining excellent working relationships with County staff, bringing new tools and projects to the community, and training our community partners to engage in CalFresh Outreach with excellence.