HUNTERDON COUNTY, NJ – Support for county food pantries, the meals on wheels program, Covid-19 testing and county tourism will be a “good first start” in the use of federal American Rescue Funds, according to Hunterdon County Board of Commissioners member Matt Holt.
Holt, who along with Commissioner Shaun C. Van Doren is heading up the Board’s American Rescue Fund oversight on the Budget Committee, said, “The Budget Committee has engaged in developing proposals for use of the American Rescue funds. Food insecurity is a major issue and the fifteen food pantries around the County have seen a great increase in demand, so those agencies are a logical place to start providing assistance. Additionally, funds will be targeted for an upgrade of the county’s meals on wheels kitchen at the Senior Center, in order to better serve those seniors in the County who rely on the program.”
Holt, a longtime member of the County Board, noted, “Great strides have been taken by the County’s management team in aligning categories, taking public input, and working with department heads to look at needs in County Departments that can fit into the federal regulations.
Covid-19 response remains a priority effort by the County and funds have been allocated for the County Health Department to continue its engagement with Hunterdon Medical Group for free COVID-19 testing, twice per week, to meet the public’s testing needs.
And to ensure the protection of the public visiting county facilities and the county’s employees, funding has also been allocated to continue the regular additional cleaning of high touch areas in county buildings that began at the beginning of the pandemic.
Holt, who also serves as the Board’s Economic Development liaison, said, “We believe the first way to address economic recovery is to provide funds to jump start the county’s tourism initiative and assisting the Economic Development office’s jobs website creation to not only help residents find jobs, but to help employers who are desperately in need of finding employees. Economic Development Director Marc Saluk has been tasked with developing a plan to address both of those initiatives.”
Holt cautioned, “We believe a very targeted and careful approach should be taken in providing assistance for economic recovery, as all Counties around the state have been warned by the state’s Office of the Comptroller to ensure there is no double dipping by those who have received other forms of federal and state aid.”
Recapping his report, Holt said, “The very first segment of the county’s American Rescue fund allocation is being targeted to assist food pantries, refurbish the meals on wheels kitchen, free COVID-19 testing for the public, health protection for the public and employees in county facilities, and the development of a tourism plan to aid in economic recovery. I think we can call that a really good first start.”