2022 Freshy Awards: Nominating Text

Published on Mar 2, 2022 in CalFresh

2022 Freshy Award Nominees

The Polls Are Closed.  Winners will be Announced at the CalFresh Forum on March 9, 2022, at 1:30 pm.  Watch live.

The unedited text from the nominators appears below.

Best Performance to improve CalFresh by an advocate with statewide reach

Frank Tamborello, Hunger Action Los Angeles

"Frank Tamborello is the director of Hunger Action LA. The main goal of HALA is to end hunger through policy, direct service, and advocacy. This year, 2021, Frank helped to form a collective called LA Produces, funded by a Voices of Healthy Kid Grant from The American Heart Association. The collective includes HALA, AHA, The Boys and Girls Club, SEE-LA, Occidental Colleges, and United Parents and Students. LA Produces wrote a policy that required Los Angeles County to help fund CAL FRESH expansion programs like Market Match which gives money to people on CAL Fresh to buy fresh produce at the farmer's market by matching every dollar they spend (up to $10) at the Market. Thus, if a participant had only $10 to spend at the market, all they have to do is go to a participating farmers market information booth and they would receive bonus bucks up to $10 additional dollars; and now the participant has $20 to spend at the market. After meeting with the Board of Supervisors and working together to create a grassroots team to apply pressure to the board, LA County allocated $2million dollars in funding to support CAL Fresh Expansion programs. This is simply one of many things Frank does to make things better in California."

Andrew Cheyne, California Association of Food Banks

"He has always gone above and beyond to increase access to fresh food for all Californians."

Best Performance to improve CalFresh by a government employee

Gilbert Ramos, San Bernardino County Transitional Assistance Department

"Gilbert Ramos is the Director of the Transitional Assistance Department (TAD) of San Bernardino County. He provides direction and oversight to TAD’s workforce providing public assistance programs, including CalFresh, for residents countywide. Gilbert Ramos is being nominated for the 2022 Freshy Award for his demonstrated commitment to support and provide innovative ways to administer TAD policy initiatives, as well as advocate for and coordinate outreach efforts that have expanded CalFresh/P-EBT partnerships with schools/school districts, community organizations, and colleges. Here are just some of the innovative ventures in 2021: • Mr. Ramos arranged for staff from the Program Development Division (PDD) to present and educate on P-EBT at several County Nutrition Action Partnership (CNAP) and Food Rescue Anti-Hunger Coalition (FRAHC) virtual meetings during the pandemic, reaching over 75 organizations, including many school districts. In addition, all State hosted P-EBT Stakeholder webinars and resources were promoted and shared. This assisted SB County schools and community-based organizations to better understand the eligibility, process, and questions related to P-EBT and better equip them to answer questions and refer them to resources. As a result, several school districts placed P-EBT information on their websites. • Gilbert Ramos was part of the “Good for Students, Good for Schools: Moving Districts Forward” webinar (11/17/2021) in partnership with San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools. This was a first-time partnership between CalFresh/TAD and School Districts and the webinar targeted school districts as CalFresh outreach partners. With Mr. Ramos support, the San Bernardino County TAD worked with No Kid Hungry to develop a CalFresh Outreach Toolkit targeted for San Bernardino County schools. This toolkit provided strategies to promote CalFresh, such as through the placement of a “CalFresh button” on their school websites linked to CalFresh enrollment, as well as messaging and graphics to parents via social media, robocall scripts, and emails. This webinar and introduction of the toolkit was implemented in joint collaboration with No Kid Hungry, San Bernardino County Department of Public Health/CalFresh Healthy Living, and School District Nutrition Services (Redlands and Adelanto School Districts). • Mr. Ramos approved and supported a 2-hour training with Community Based Organizations entitled “CBO’s and C4Yourself” to discuss CBO accounts, the application process, and transition from C4Yourself to BenefitsCal. (5/18/2021) • In 2021, TAD under the direction of Gilbert Ramos targeted local colleges throughout the County (Yucca Valley, Yucaipa, and San Bernardino) to bring awareness and educate students on CalFresh expanded college student eligibility through virtual and in-person events. • TAD provided outreach to veterans at Veterans Village, as well as rural and distant areas (1-2x/month), including Barstow, Hinkley, and Baker (Nevada border). • During the pandemic, in addition to appointments and assistance online and by phone, SB County TAD offices were kept open to engage and support the community as needed. Because of these all-encompassing super-heroic efforts and actions (especially in the midst of the pandemic), Gilbert Ramos is well deserving of the 2022 Freshy Award."

Nancy Rodriguez, DPSS San Mateo County

"Nancy Rodriguez serves as Manager II for San Mateo County and is assigned to oversee the CalFresh Program – this assignment was at her request, as she is passionate about ending hunger. From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nancy worked to create innovative strategies to reach those in need. She worked with County Emergency Response to create and implement a rapid (same or next day) EBT card delivery service for individuals who could not travel due to COVID-19 risks or restrictions. This program provided needy individuals and families an ability to access benefits quickly, including online ordering services and food delivery. Nancy also expanded the way San Mateo County conducted CalFresh Outreach. She swiftly identified the need to change communication strategies and expanded campaigns to include virtual presentations, including video food demonstrations. She worked with Santa Clara County and Second Harvest food bank on a cross-county venture to reach individuals who were demonstrating an immediate need by utilizing food banks. Participants who affirmed their need were called within 24 hours and assisted in applying for CalFresh.Additionally, Nancy collaborated with San Mateo Legal Aid Society and Public Health on a Public Charge campaign. This effort included commissioning professional posters, (samples available upon request), Public Service announcements (including online information and a radio ad), a dedicated County phone number for Public Charge questions and information, and providing training, literature, and materials to County staff as well as local partner agencies. Nancy has worked hard to provide advocacy within our community and implemented processes that worked to assist clients in receiving benefits faster and easier. Her approach has been successful; as result, amongst California counties, San Mateo achieved one of the highest pandemic-period, statewide program percentage increases. For these reasons, Nancy Rodriguez is an excellent candidate for a Freshy Award!"

Cassandra Wagner, California Department of Social Services

"Casandra Wagner and her team members are with the CalFresh Policy Bureau at the California Department of Social Services. Cassie and her team have been charging forward on all things related to expanding CalFresh benefits for college students. Cassie and her team have worked diligently with our intersegmental working group, the California Higher Education Basic Needs Alliance on implementation of many recently passed CalFresh for college student related bills. They are very proactive and are seeking creative means to expand CalFresh for College students. As a person who has been in the higher education space for almost 20 years, and as a person who has worked in the area of expanding public benefit access for college students, I can say unequivocally that Cassie and her team are exceptional advocates for our students. The energy and innovation that Cassie brings to these efforts is very much above and beyond. Implementation of these bills combined with Cassie’s energy to ensure smooth implementation will have an impact on millions of students in California’s higher education systems now and for years to come. "

Daniel Wheeler, DPSS Los Angeles County

"Daniel Wheeler is a member of the marketing communications team at the Department of Public Social Services of Los Angeles County. He has played an important role to increase public awareness through innovative strategies to connect with local and hyperlocal communities seeking food benefits. Some of his accomplishments are below: Conducted research and field studies to improve the Department’s marketing communications through a heavy focus on community outreach and public relations to produce stellar content for deeply targeted audiences thereby growing, feeding, and engaging local communities. Successfully negotiated and captured earned media on behalf of the Department, a Public Service Announcement valued more than $30,000 dollars to promote and expand the Department’s benefit programs to niche audiences on Power 106, 93.5 KDAY, and 93.9 KLLI. Produced best-in-class marketing strategies to promote Department initiatives to ensure performance - operating on trust and cooperation by setting clearly defined end goals to ensure project success."

Best Performance to improve CalFresh for college students

Colleen Ganley, California Community Colleges Chancelors's Office

"Colleen has been an absolute champion for college students and CalFresh Food benefits/basic needs for over 15 years! She continues to advocate for changes that streamline the complicated application process for students across California and has worked behind the scenes on tons of legislation to make it all happen. She is a partner to all and always brings new and innovative ideas to stakeholder convenings and meetings. She continues to work on many pilot efforts for community college students and is so creative in finding real-world solutions. She speaks very candidly about the struggles that college students face, and is a motivator to all around her. Her passion for serving students is clear, and she is so very appreciated!"

Ruben Canedo, University of California Berkeley

"Ruben Canedo, (he/they) is the Co-Chair of the UC Systemwide Basic Needs Committee, an organizer, advocate, energizer, and certified trouble maker. He has elevated the efforts across the state of California to uplift college students by bringing groups together in a united way while encouraging the celebration of process and reflection on ways policy and implementation of policy can create positive change. This includes bringing together advocates, the California Department of Social Services, Higher Ed Segments, researchers, Center for Healthy Communities at Chico State, and other stakeholders to ensure the heart of the discussion is focused on increasing access to CalFresh Food benefits for college students while recognizing the systemic barrier still in place which must be rebuilt in an equitable way. Ruben's energizing efforts have made a significant difference in policy changes and how policies are implemented across the state of California in an equitable and intentional way."

Best Performance best performance to improve CalFresh by a regional advocate

Jenni Dye, Center for Healthy Communities

"Jenni continues to pioneer CalFresh Outreach and other food security efforts in the rural Far North of our state. She is an excellent collaborator and partner and is innovative with blending different projects to serve a greater purpose: food access for all. She leads a strong community CalFresh Outreach team that covers multiple often underserved Far North counties while also overseeing a number of Farmers’ Market Market Match programs, which helps create more equitable access to fresh and locally grown produce for CalFresh Food recipients. Lastly, Jenni mentors many college students and professional staff to get creative with how they can help their communities – she has dedicated her career to this important work and truly deserves recognition for the monumental impact she has made!"

Daisy Munguia-Piñon, No Kid Hungry

"Daisy Munguia-Pinon serves as Associate Director for Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign. Overseeing the Southern California region, she focuses on ensuring that children in need enroll ineffective federal nutrition programs and equitable initiatives by forging community partnerships and through program innovation. Daisy Munguia-Pinon is being nominated for the 2022 Freshy Award for her innovative outreach strategies to increase CalFresh participation. Daisy helped launch the first-of-its-kind outreach for Calfresh in Schools in San Bernardino County. She identified schools as an under-utilized resource for Calfresh outreach and that by bringing them together with county and community stakeholders, this outreach could be beneficial for all parties. In collaboration with local School Nutrition Directors, San Bernardino County Public Health, and Transitional Assistance Departments, she helped develop a co-branded toolkit for schools and a webinar providing the why and how of connecting families with outreach. Through Daisy's efforts, she identified SB 708, legislation passed long ago requiring Calfresh links on a school's webpage wherever school meal applications can be found. This legislation was largely unknown by schools in our region and is serving as a catalyst for them to take action. She also worked to educate schools on the need for Calfresh by contrasting enrollment data with Medicaid enrollment, shedding light on just how many people were qualified for the program but not accessing it. Since the webinar, Daisy and her San Bernardino County partners are working to issue a CalFresh Website Challenge in which school districts put a colorful button on their web pages connecting families to the Calfresh enrollment page. She is also implementing a No Kid Hungry granting program for innovative outreach in San Bernardino County schools. This incredible work in San Bernardino County is just the beginning for Daisy. She has been hard at work since the webinar launch connecting with her partners in other CA counties, and as a result, she is now working with San Diego and Orange Counties as they develop webinars and strategies for Calfresh outreach in their own schools... Her innovation and outside-the-box thinking has created a ripple effect throughout the counties of California, with the potential of impacting thousands of families facing hunger."

Special Freshy Award For Lifetime Achievement

To be announced on March 9, 2022.

County Performance Awards For Large, Medium, and Small Counties

To be announced on March 9, 2022.

County Innovation Special Freshy Award

To be announced on March 9, 2022.