News from DHS for December 2020

Minnesota Department of Human Services logo


December 2020

News from DHS archive

In this issue:

Apple Tree Dental and DHS open new dental center

Low-income families and people with disabilities will have greater access to dental care in West Central Minnesota thanks to an innovative partnership between Apple Tree Dental and the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS). 

Read more in the department's Dec. 9 news release.

Dental assistant with adult female dental patient in dental chair

Lori Hanson recently had her teeth cleaned at the new dental center in Fergus Falls, where Connie Gardner works as a licensed and certified dental assistant.

Grants help older Minnesotans stay independent

Helping older Minnesotans maintain their health, independence and community involvement is the goal of more than $7 million in grants the Minnesota Department of Human Services is awarding to organizations and facilities around the state. The Live Well at Home grants total more than $7 million and will go to 70 organizations from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021. 

Read more in the department's Dec. 11 news release.

Older woman in kitchen with tablet

Live Well at Home grants fund a variety of innovative projects and services, including “gerontechnology,” which uses virtual reality and videography to build intergenerational friendships, support families who care for older adults and provide an array of programming.

Minnesota's first-in-nation Medicaid benefit serves those at risk of homelessness

A new Medicaid benefit has helped more than 1,700 Minnesotans secure housing during the pandemic, improving their lives while reducing their risk of getting or spreading COVID-19. Minnesota is the first state to offer Housing Stabilization Services as part of its basic Medicaid program. The services are available to people with disabilities and older adults who are most likely to experience homelessness.

Read more in the department's Dec. 7 news release.

Help is on the way for coping with COVID-19

Minnesotans who need help coping with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will now have more support services available, thanks to grants from the Minnesota Department of Human Services. DHS has awarded a total of $1.68 million to 11 community agencies across the state for crisis counseling services to help people struggling with stress and anxiety as a result of the pandemic. 

Read more in the department's Dec. 3 news release.

In social media

Aldi  and DHS logos with healthy food spilling out of a grocery bag

Posted Dec. 22 on the DHS Facebook page:

Great news for SNAP participants! You can now use your EBT card to buy food online from Aldi. The grocery chain recently joined Amazon and Walmart as approved retailers for the online EBT program in Minnesota.

Curbside pickup and delivery options can help save time and reduce contact with others during the pandemic. Learn how you can buy groceries online with your EBT card at

For information about SNAP or applying for it, visit or call the Minnesota Food HelpLine at 651-486-9860 or 888-711-1151.

To see more posts like this and for timely updates on DHS news and events, follow DHS on Twitter and Facebook.

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newspaper beside a coffee cup

In the news

Here are links to some news articles about DHS during December:

  • New Minnesota COVID-19 hotline for immigrants and refugees answers questions in 13 languages. Launched by the Refugee Resettlement Network, the hotline offers guidance on health care, vaccines, food assistance, housing support. Learn more in this article that that ran Dec. 24 in the Sahan Journal, a nonprofit digital news organization dedicated to reporting for and about immigrants and refugees in Minnesota. The reporter interviewed DHS Assistant Commissioner Nikki Farago for the story. Commissioner Jodi Harpstead is also quoted.

  • Conversations with Al McFarlane. Commissioner Jodi Harpstead recently spoke with Al McFarlane at Insight News as part of a series of town hall meetings, sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Health, with organizations and community and civic leaders focusing on the impact of COVID-19. Highlights of their conversation, which streamed live on Dec. 19, included discussion of how the Walz-Flanagan Administration is actively engaging communities of color and taking steps to ensure COVID-19 resources are equitably delivered (begins around the 10-minute mark), and the state’s heightened focus on diversity and inclusion, including moving toward a state workforce that represents the diversity of Minnesotans (begins around the 26-minute mark).
  • Medical journal includes Commissioner Harpstead and Dr. Chomilo in list
    of 100 most influential health care leaders.
    Once every four years, Minnesota Physician, a medical business journal, asks readers to nominate individuals whose outstanding leadership in health care warrant recognition in a feature on the state’s 100 most influential health care leaders. This year both Commissioner Jodi Harpstead and Dr. Nathan Chomilo, medical director for Medicaid and MinnesotaCare, were included. Each of them was asked two questions:
    1. What are the biggest challenges facing health care delivery today?
    2. How is your organization preparing to meet those challenges?
    See their responses in the November 2020 issue of Minnesota Physician.

  • 'It was a godsend': New Minnesota hiring program helps care homes hit hard by COVID-19. Hope House is among nearly 150 residential care centers across Minnesota that have filled essential caregiving positions — and, in many cases, avoided catastrophe — through an aggressive new hiring initiative. In just a few months, the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) has developed a large pool of workers who can be deployed rapidly to care centers that face critical staffing shortages. Learn more in a Star Tribune article published Dec. 17 that includes an interview with Dan Pollock, assistant commissioner for Continuing Care for Older Adults.