The conflict in Ukraine has caused a significant jump in gas prices. This is on top of rising prices for food, clothing, and services.
I know that for some residents, these cost increases have triggered a crisis at home - leaving many to wonder how they are going to stretch their income to pay for food, transportation, energy costs, mortgage or rent payments, and childcare.
There are actually several resources residents can apply for to help save money on basic expenses. The following are some key program links and how to access them. For a complete list of programs that are available, you can start with NJ 211, found here: https://www.nj211.org/. If you are aware of additional resources, please email me and I will add them to this list.
Food Assistance, Insurance, and Cash Assistance: If you are financially struggling, you should first check if you are eligible for key programs that can help to reduce your costs on food, insurance, and housing. Go to https://www.njhelps.org/ to fill out their easy assessment tool and it will recommend what you may be eligible for.
Local Food Banks: There are two local organizations that are ready to help with food and groceries, which can help free up money to spend in other areas. The first is the food pantry at Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit. Food can be pick up the 4th Saturday of every month from 9 am to 11 am. To learn more go here: http://holyspiritverona.org/food-pantry. The second food pantry Verona residents can receive assistance from is the Human Needs Food Pantry in Montclair. They provide fresh fruit, meat, and other groceries to their clients, and they provide clothing and household items. They are open on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 12 pm to 2:30 pm. To learn more go here: http://www.humanneedsfoodpantry.org/. Both organizations' services are completely confidential and both offer delivery for homebound residents.
Utility Assistance: PSE&G has several programs aimed to help reduce energy bills. To learn more go to pseg.com/help.
If you are struggling to pay your water and sewer bill, please contact the Township to let them know of your situation and to work out a payment plan. They can be reached at (973) 857-4798.
Tax Help: Contact the United Way of Northern NJ for free assistance in filing your taxes. More information is here: https://vita.unitedwaynnj.org/index.php.
Health Insurance: No one should go without health insurance coverage. If you are uninsured, check out the NJ health plan offered here: https://www.getcoveragenj.com/. Even though open enrollment has ended, you may still be able to apply for coverage.
Residents with Children
Free school meals: One of the most under-utilized financial benefits that parents with school aged children have access to is free lunch. While the Verona Public Schools does not participate in the National School Lunch Program, the district does cover the cost of school meals for families that qualify (see chart below). In NJ, families who are eligible for reduced price meals get the full cost of those meals covered. To apply, go to https://www.veronaschools.org/domain/1299. You can also call the Business Office to discuss if you may qualify (973) 571-2029.
Verona Children's Fund: Families with children who are facing financial stress should also reach out to Verona Community Services to discuss how the Verona Children's Fund may be able to assist with the costs of recreation programs, school trips, and other necessities. They can be reached at 973-857-4832 (ask for Mary Farrell).