416,000 NJ children living on food stamps
The latest numbers from the New Jersey Department of Human Services suggest more than 882,000 people in the state are living on food stamps. More than 416,000 of them are children.
These numbers are significantly higher than just a few years ago, and they don't even tell the whole story, according to Serena Rice, executive director of the Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey.
"Only 77 percent of households that are eligible by income to receive this help actually get that help," Rice said.
While many people may simply not realize they are income-eligible, Rice said there is a sizable crowd who's just too ashamed to ask for outside assistance.
"I think it is because of the stigma," she said. "A lot of people are embarrassed to ask for help when the program is there because our society recognizes our whole society does better when people aren't hungry."
The number of people on food stamps has skyrocketed since the economy tanked last decade, but it's beginning to level out. New Jersey's threshold is 185 percent of the federal poverty level.
According to the state, food stamps are utilized mostly in Essex County, followed by Hudson and Passaic. Hunterdon County has the least amount of people who depend on food stamps.
Rice noted the average household, in the past, would stay on food stamps for 10 months. Now it's up to 12 months because people are not finding work as fast.