More federal dollars flow to county

El Paso County will receive another $350,000 in federal funds to address the growing strain on existing resources related to administering the Food Assistance Program.

Two similar allocations of federal funding totaling $394,434 were made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act last year.

The latest allocation will be used to pay for temporary positions and for overtime for current staff to ensure the El Paso County Department of Human Services is processing food assistance applications within the federally required timeframes, El Paso County spokeswoman Jennifer Brown said in a statement.

The federal money was made available with the passage of the Department of Defense Act of 2010 and will be funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Officials at the El Paso County Department of Human Services say the need is real.

From 2008 to 2009, for example, DHS saw a 31-percent increase in the number of people receiving food assistance.  On average during 2009 in El Paso County, 49,000 people per month received food assistance benefits.

The department’s employees have been credited during the past year with coming up with ways to provide more timely and efficient delivery of services, said Commissioner Sallie Clark who serves as liaison commissioner to DHS.

“These federal dollars will help us continue to serve families who have fallen on hard times and get them on the road to self sufficiency,” she said in response to today’s news.

The Food Assistance Program is completely paid for and regulated by the federal government. The El Paso County Department of Human Services is required to administer the program to eligible recipients based on federal income guidelines.