Brady said food pantries are also being used more than ever and meet a “big need.”
According to Brady, the percentage of children and youths living below the poverty level in Schoharie County has increased from 16.7 percent in 2005 to 18.7 percent. Even with the expansion of programs available, he said, not all impoverished people seek help.
“There may be a stigma to applying,” Brady said. “Many people are too proud to ask for help.”
But Brady said there have been several ad campaigns that try to remove that stigma from applying for assistance, particularly for food stamps.
“Now it’s much more discreet than it used to be,” Brady said. “Individuals get a card. I can’t remember the last time actual stamps were used.”
Brady said he thinks some people may feel embarrassed or uncomfortable coming directly to the building and applying, or have trouble getting transportation there. According to Brady, application can now be done online through a program called My Benefits. Brady said individuals can also use this to see what programs they would be eligible for.
Brady said the Schoharie County Community Action Program, which he described as Schoharie County’s version of Delaware Opportunities, acts as a counterpart to his office and is another avenue where people can apply for assistance.
Brady said he doesn’t think Schoharie County will be moving away from a primarily agriculture-focused economy any time soon. He said the area government needs to think about what it can do to attract more business to the area. According to Brady, there are already some incentives in place to try and bring business, as well as residents, back to the county.
“People are still feeling the affects of the downturn in the economy,” Brady said. “When programs like the food banks are so widely used, we need to ask, ‘how successful are we, really?’ And then decide what we can do to revitalize the local economy.”