Ocean County To Use $17.8 Million In Federal Covid Funds To Help Fight Food Insecurity, Aid For Businesses And Parks

Ocean County is preparing to invest an additional $17.8 million from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) into a host of programs that will help residents address food insecurities, provide all-inclusive recreational opportunities for children and aid businesses affected by COVID 19, the county announced on Friday.

The county will allocate funds to human services programs to assist residents improve job skills, benefit children that have suffered learning loss, raise awareness regarding teen suicide, as well as a host of other areas.

A public hearing on the proposed funding allocation and ARPA plan amendment has been scheduled for 11 a.m., August 8 in Room 119 of the Ocean County Administration Building, 101 Hooper Avenue.

“After a thorough review of how the funds can be used, it was determined these are areas along with assisting our municipalities, that continue to need our response,” Ocean County Commissioner John Kelly, who serves as a liaison to the Ocean County Department of Finance, said in a statement.

“It’s important residents and organizations have an opportunity to comment on how we anticipate allocating these funds.

“While this is just a portion of the money Ocean County will receive, we want to be transparent of its use,” he said.

Earlier this year, the County allocated more than $25 million of the ARPA funds to address some of the negative impacts left by the COVID 19 pandemic.

“With so many people, including children and teenagers, suffering with negative mental and behavioral health impacts, and others struggling to get back on their feet financially, a large percentage of the funds in the original allocation went toward updating initiatives and expansion of current services to help our residents,” said Ocean County Commissioner Barbara Jo Crea, liaison to the Ocean County Department of Human Services.

Of the $17.8 million allocation, the County proposes spending $7.5 million on programs that will address food insecurity.

Ocean County is also proposing allocating $3 million to the Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation to improve playgrounds in four different County parks to provide all-inclusive recreational opportunities. 

“We operate a large regional park system and every park can be used by everyone,” said Ocean County Commissioner Virginia E. Haines, Chairwoman of the Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation.  “An all-inclusive playground provides a safe and secure atmosphere for all children including children with disabilities and also for their parents and grandparents.

“It is beneficial for everyone,” she said.

Playgrounds would be updated with new equipment that could be used by children who rely on wheelchairs, need help with mobility or have other disabilities that may hinder them from participating on standard playground equipment.

“This will provide children that have physical and cognitive challenges a place to enjoy recreational outdoor activities, with their friends and families,” Haines said.

The County also plans to provide $500,000 of ARPA funds to provide grants to non-profit organizations allowing them to upgrade recreational areas in communities to serve all children.

Ocean County is expected to provide $1 million in ARPA funding to help small businesses and non-profit organizations that experienced financial hardship during the pandemic. The ARPA funds could be applied toward operating expenditures.

ARPA funds will also be allocated for stormwater drainage improvements for Long Beach Township and the rehabilitation of the Manahawkin Lake Dam in Stafford Township.

A complete list of projects and allocations can be found on the Ocean County website at www.co.ocean.nj.us

The Ocean County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to vote on the ARPA plan amendments during the Aug. 16 Board meeting.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. It sounds so cute and so nice, but ALWAYS REMEMBER, they’re spending your money and charging it to a credit card with a $32,000,000,000,000 overdraft already on it. Your children’s children’s children, etc. will be paying this off.

    So, in sum, they are pretending to be kind and heroic at your expense.

    Disgusting.

  2. They will waste the money like government does everytime they spend on some nice sounding project. A bunch of hot air. Let’s be honest, there is no food “insecurity” in America where we spend billions on food stamps. I know this personally from people I know who eat very well thanks to food stamps. If there is food “insecurity” it is among the middle class who are always the losers. We are not going to get anything except a higher tax bill. Our reward for working harder or taking on an extra job with great personal sacrifice is to pay more for other’s health “insurance” and food “insecurities”. It is sick and getting sicker.

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