Growing up, Heather Martinez experienced extreme hunger. Although her family received SNAP assistance (then called Food Stamps), food availability was very limited in rural, central North Dakota, where Heather grew up. She recalls watching a classmate unpack yogurt at school during lunch and wondered why she couldn’t have the same.
“As a child, you don’t understand it,” she says. “You don’t understand why you’re so hungry, and other people aren’t.”
As an adult, Heather uses that memory of hunger — and many more — to fuel her passion for food justice and community health. From working 10 years in mental healthcare to sharing her story on a panel about food insecurity, she is truly making an impact for many.
Two years ago, Heather joined the Great Plains Food Bank as a SNAP outreach coordinator and was recently promoted to SNAP outreach manager, overseeing statewide application assistance and benefit navigation. The job, she says, calls back to her roots. Every time she helps someone apply for and receive SNAP benefits, it feels personal to her.
“In my head, I’m helping my mom, or I’m helping my sisters…and that really motivates me,” she shares.
In her role at the Great Plains Food Bank, Heather helps up to 400 people a month access SNAP assistance and directs even more to our partner food pantries for immediate food support.
Heather’s passion and dedicated service is helping end hunger for our neighbors in her hometown, and across our service area. To learn more about how SNAP helps our neighbors in need, please visit GreatPlainsFoodBank.org.
Heather uses her own lived experience of hunger to better the lives of our neighbors.
“In my head, I’m helping my mom, or I’m helping my sisters…and that really motivates me.”
– Heather Martinez