>By Freeholder Amy Mallet
Over the last four years, Monmouth County has seen a very significant increase in the demand for Social Services, most notably Food Stamps (now called NJ SNAP) and Family Care Medicaid. Recently, the numbers of people applying for basic welfare programs have also begun to rise.
The steady growth in need is not a surprise given the economic climate and the rate of unemployment. Many of these individuals are our neighbors, families and friends who want nothing more than to be able to return to work and support their families.
Specifically, we have seen a 64 percent increase in the total number of Food Stamp applications from 2007 through 2010. This year, in the month of March alone, we registered 1,245 new Food Stamp applications – up 51 percent from the same time last year. Currently, there are 14,436 families and individuals in Monmouth County receiving a monthly Food Stamp allotment.
The economic woes that have affected the whole nation have taken a toll here in Monmouth County. Despite the fact that the demand for services has increased significantly, the 2011 budget for the Department of Human Services was decreased by 6 percent.
The Monmouth County Department of Human Services is to be commended for continued commitment to providing assistance while facing growing need and shrinking resources. As the direct liaison to this department, I would like to publicly thank our dedicated employees for their perseverance. We are hopeful that everyone impacted by hard times will see their situations improve as the economy recovers. In the meantime, it is reassuring to witness the work being done by our committed county staff.
Amy A. Mallet
Freeholder, Monmouth County