Assemblywoman Huttle Seeks Answers as to why NJ Residents Have One of Longest Waits in the Country for Food Assistance

letter huttleAssembly Human Services Committee Chair Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) is seeking answers from the State Department of Human Services (DHS) as to why New Jersey residents have one of the longest waits in the country to receive word on whether they qualify for critical nutritional aid.

Vainieri Huttle sent a letter to DHS Commissioner Jennifer Velez on Friday laying out a series of questions in response to a number of reports over the summer showing New Jersey’s ‘chronically poor performance’ in administering the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), ranking 52nd out of 53 state agencies nationwide in terms of timeliness when it comes to processing applications for the program.

“The problem we have here is twofold. First, you have some of our most vulnerable residents being forced to wait an exorbitant amount of time to find out if they qualify for crucial assistance to help feed their families. As a result of this dysfunctional system, the federal government is now threatening to withhold half of the $278 million it costs our state to operate this program, a move that could threaten the well being of even more families,” said Vainieri Huttle. “This is why we need answers.”

Among the many questions Vainieri Huttle laid out in her letter is why the state’s $118 million investment in a new computer system to replace the current antiquated one has yet to come to fruition, a move that many say would alleviate most of the existing delays and communications problems.

A full copy of Vainieri Huttle’s letter is attached here.


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  1. Here is a simple solution automation. Case workers should work via e-mail. The application process should be streamed to an online process. People should apply online and then scan their paperwork at the end of the online application. Even if a human has to verify the paperwork it saves alot of back and forth. When the computer says Ok now submit paystubs you will remember to submit it. They can also make an interactive system with the IRS so that it automaticlly collects ur tax information further ensuring accuracy. I think automation and more generally going more digital such as e-mails rather than hand mails correspondance.can cut the wait time to half.

  2. In the private sector, if an employee slacks off, he loses his job. If a company doesn’t provide the service in an efficient manner, the customer has the option of shopping elsewhere. This creates the incesntive for companies, and their employees, to always please the customer.

    On the other hand, Government employees have no reason to work hard. They will get paid whether they work or not, the union will protect their jobs, and the little people will still be forced to use their services whether we are happy with the services or not.

    This is exactly what will happen when ObamaCare is fully implemented, and we will have no choice but to use the doctors and hospitals mandated by the government.

    Medical providers will no longer have any incentive to please the customer. In fact, we will no longer be “customers”. We will be “cases”, just like in the food stamps office.

    Welcome to socialism, where everyone is equally miserable.

  3. System is definitely a disaster. They send you letters that you should call or else & its impossible to get someone on the phone. No 3 is correct they are wasting a lot of time talking & smoking. There was 1 story of a case worker who told a client while she was smoking that the more you talk to her the less she works. But this is all nothing new they’re government workers & theres no accountability because no one really cares. Not the workers or the supervisor or anyone else up the political ladder including the governor & even up to the president himself.

  4. I laugh at those who make comment here about other human beings. Do you realize when your “scoping” the scene that the Ocean County Bd of social services is severely understaffed!!??!! It’s a pathetic joke to be honest! Do more with less and yet the workers get blamed! I find it sad to see that people getting govt assistance for families of working age adults can have time to come on here and complain, ridicule and spread unverifiable stories about another human being!

  5. Just to be clear, I disagree with many of the commentors who suggest that the case workers are slacking off on their job and are lazy. I have frequented the food stamps office and its true they are crazy busy. I think physically they work as hard as many of us in the private sector. You gotto give credit where credit is due.The problem is that nobody sat down and thought about how can we make the work we do more efficent. If you are still working with a pencil & paper you will have alot of work but a slow production. We need the higher ups to either sit down a hire a professional who can properly maximize efficency and train the case workers with those proper tools to go digital. I am in no way blaming the workers who I think do work hard and are under lots of pressure.

  6. It definitely does not need to take as long as it does. I used I live in Lakewood and had such a hard time with the government programs-long wait, not nice case workers, lack of communication between workers, having to submit documents many times… I moved out of state and applied for ALL the programs on ONE application in a matter of minutes. THE NEXT DAY I received a phone call to follow up as well as mail the day after to confirm the information and make sure I knew which documents to send in. Now that’s efficient! Wake up NJ and learn from other states who have the same programs but better systems.

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