Pumping $1.2 billion into New Jersey’s local economies each year, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps feed tens of thousands of low-income workers, children, senior citizens and people with disabilities.
This critical federal aid, commonly known as food stamps, helps more than 750,000 New Jersey residents afford nutritious food, including nearly 300,000 children. The majority of households receiving this aid have at least one working family member and almost all are scraping by on poverty wages or income.
After successfully opposing attempts in Congress to cut this critical food aid, New Jersey is taking steps to enable more people to receive this assistance.
In November 2018, the New Jersey Department of Human Services announced that it is changing state rules to allow more community college students to qualify for SNAP. The new rule will allow career and technical education courses to count toward the state’s work requirements, which had been a significant barrier for college students who could not meet the 20-hour per week requirement, while also attending school full-time.
This important change — which has been a top priority for Hunger Free New Jersey — will help more students finish their education and go on to land better-paying jobs. We commend Commissioner Carole Johnson and the department for taking this important step.
The Hunger Free Campus Act, (A-4702/S-3239), passed by the state Assembly in December 2018, would establish a grant program to help colleges address campus hunger. In addition to other provisions, colleges that accept grant funds would have to designate a staff member responsible for assisting students with enrollment in SNAP. It would also allow students to use SNAP benefits at campus stores.
Both efforts promise to expand access to SNAP for college students.
In addition, Hunger Free New Jersey continues to work with state officials to explore ways to ensure all those who could benefit from SNAP do so and that work requirements do not punish people who cannot find jobs.