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By DTA Commissioner Julia Kehoe

The tornados and storms that struck Massachusetts on June 1, 2011 resulted in devastation across central and western Massachusetts.  State agencies and nonprofits worked together to provide relief to affected residents, and I am proud that the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) played a part.

Recently, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced its Hunger Champions awards for 2011. These awards typically honor ongoing work in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); however, this year USDA gave special recognition for SNAP disaster assistance.  I am pleased to announce that our Springfield and Southbridge offices received this special recognition in honor of their “extremely well-organized and immediate response to the needs of over 10,000 people in communities and neighborhoods in western Massachusetts that experienced a June 1, 2011 tornado.”  

Please join me in congratulating the following Directors of Transitional Assistance Offices (TAOs) in the western region: Claudette Champagne (Springfield, Liberty Street); Melissa Pietraszkiewicz (Springfield, State Street); and Roxanne Smith-Miller (Southbridge), and all of their staff who are recognized by this award.  In addition, I extend hearty congratulations and thanks to the hundreds of my DTA colleagues from across the state who worked long hours in many locations throughout the disaster relief effort.  Ours was truly a Department-wide response;  I am humbled by the teamwork and dedication you demonstrated in June, and continue to demonstrate each and every day.

To see all of the recipients of the 2011 SNAP Hunger Champions Awards, visit

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