Hunger Solutions New York is honored to present this year’s NYS Anti-Hunger Champion Award to Tom Hedderman. Established in 2015, this award honors distinctive leaders in New York who have taken strategic and decisive steps to reduce hunger throughout our state and beyond.
We are pleased to present this award to Tom in recognition of his accomplishments in managing policy and program implementation for nutrition assistance benefits for millions of New Yorkers, and in maintaining and improving the integrity and efficacy of SNAP and other essential programs throughout our state.
Tom is a nationally recognized expert in food and nutrition policy with over 35 years of experience in human services program and policy development and administration. He started out as a “Food Stamp Information Aide” at NYS OTDA more than 30 years ago, and has risen through the agency to serve as EBT bureau chief, SNAP bureau chief, and for the last 10 years, as director of food and nutrition policy, leading one of the largest state food and nutrition programs in the country.
The public service Tom and his team at OTDA provide to vulnerable New Yorkers is unparalleled, and we are proud to pay tribute to his ongoing commitment and accomplishments.
Tom was the 2017 recipient of The American Association of SNAP Directors (AASD) Distinguished Service Award. He is a Past Interim President, past First Vice President and current member of the Executive Board of AASD. He often humbly but effectively plays a role in contributing insight and guidance on federal policy – much to the benefit of his fellow state SNAP directors and to people across the country who rely on SNAP.
In the past year, COVID has stressed every seam in the fabric of our work. Tom and his team at OTDA have been working around the clock to keep pace with the demand for food assistance through the programs that the office administers. From March to December 2020, OTDA has distributed close to $5 billion in SNAP benefits, a 37% increase over the same period in 2019. The flexibilities and waivers granted to OTDA by the federal government has resulted in more than a 10% increase in the number of households receiving SNAP. NYS also leads the nation in implementing available federal SNAP waivers. Tom also stood up one of the largest COVID-relief federal child nutrition programs in the nation, P-EBT. In 2020, more than 2.4 million children received nearly $1B in P-EBT benefits through the implementation of a complex benefit program. In 2021, Tom’s team will issue another round of benefits to children in need.
He has not stopped fighting for those who rely on nutrition assistance programs, by recognizing the need, for example, that the lowest income SNAP households deserve an emergency allotment, advocating for a higher P-EBT reimbursement amount, and many other examples.
The public service Tom and his team at OTDA provide to vulnerable New Yorkers is unparalleled, and we are proud to pay tribute to his ongoing commitment and accomplishments. His actions have not only improved the lives of untold numbers of our state’s most vulnerable, they have set an inspiring example, and serve to motivate all of us in our collective work to alleviate hunger.
Congratulations to Tom Hedderman, the recipient of the NYS Anti-Hunger Champion Award.