Changing policy and practice to ensure all New Jerseyans have healthy food, every single day

Hunger Free State Priorities

Our State Policy Priorities 2018-19

Support SNAP for All Struggling New Jersey Residents

The Problem
Nearly 1 million New Jersey residents suffer from hunger each year, according to Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap 2018. The Supplemental Food Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as food stamps) is the first line of defense against this pervasive hunger that strikes children, the elderly, the working poor, people with disabilities, veterans and others in communities across New Jersey.

About 750,000 New Jersey residents benefit from SNAP, but rules and restrictions mean many in need of this food aid go without. In fact, just 72 percent of eligible households participate – much lower than the national 85 participation rate.

The Solutions

Enact state policies to broaden assistance to all in need by reinstating “heat and eat,” which allows households receiving at least $21 per month in energy assistance to qualify for higher SNAP aid.

Examine work requirements to avoid punishing people who cannot find a job or participate in a training program and to strengthen job training programs to make them more effective.

Convene a working group to identify barriers and solutions to participation, including streamlining the application process, working with community organizations to conduct community outreach and removing other barriers that prevent people from receiving this critical assistance.

Combat College Hunger

The Problem
Half of community college students struggle with food hardship, while one in five college students are hungry, according to a 2015 national study. Hungry college students may be forced to delay their education to make ends meet – setting them up for a cycle of poverty that becomes difficult to break.

The Solution
Change state policies to allow vocational education to count as work, making more struggling college students eligible for SNAP.

Expand Summer Meals and School Breakfast

The Problem
Federal school breakfast and summer meals programs offer much-needed nutrition to children all year long. While New Jersey has made strong strides in expanding this nutrition to more children, tens of thousands of children remain unserved.

The Solution
Legislation enacted in May 2018 promises to expand federal child nutrition assistance to more children by requiring high-poverty schools and districts to serve breakfast during the school day (breakfast after the bell) and participate in the federal Summer Food Service Program.

Hunger Free New Jersey will work with state officials and local communities to ensure successful implementation of this legislation and to measure progress toward the goal of ensuring all children have enough healthy food to each, every single day.

School districts and summer meals sponsors receive federal reimbursements for each meal served. If New Jersey served school breakfast to 70 percent of students who receive free and reduced-price lunch, it would receive $14 million more in federal reimbursements each year, according to the Food Research & Action Center. If New Jersey communities fed summer meals to 40 percent of low-income students, an additional $5.2 million would flow each year into communities across the state to feed hungry children.

Ban Lunch Shaming

The Problem
Unfortunately, some parents fall behind on their children’s school meals fees. While this can present a fiscal hardship for some school districts, shaming and punishing students only hurts children, without addressing a family’s financial issues or restoring funding to school districts.

The Solution
A new law requires school districts to report the number of students who are denied a meal because of past due accounts. The New Jersey Departments of Education and Agriculture should examine this data and use it to develop a model policy for school districts that provides effective, non-punitive ways to deal with unpaid school meals and prohibits shaming children when this does occur.

Address Senior Hunger

The Problem
More than 230,000 New Jersey seniors face hunger each year, according to Meal On Wheels. National studies find that just 42 percent of eligible seniors receive SNAP. This means seniors are most likely to miss out on this critical assistance.

The Solution
Change state policies to make it easier for seniors to apply for and receive SNAP, including streamlining the application process, conducting outreach to ensure all eligible seniors have access to SNAP and implementing a standard medical deduction to make more struggling seniors eligible.

More Policy Priorities

#SNAPFeedsNJ Campaign

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) is the nation’s first line of defense against hunger. Congressional proposals threaten this critical aid.

Learn more about the campaign.

Hunger Advances

We’re making progress in fighting hunger in New Jersey. Learn about new state initiatives that promise to reduce hunger.

Learn more.

Grassroots Advocacy

We work with local advocates across New Jersey to help them make a difference in their own  backyards. Parents, community leaders and others join forces to improve food access for community residents.

Join us.

School Breakfast Increase

Kids Receiving Summer Meals

NJ Residents Receiving Food Assist

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Average SNAP Benefit
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