Open in App
  • U.S.
  • Election
  • Newsletter
  • The Center Square

    Lawmakers approve expansion of food assistance

    By By Christian Wade | The Center Square contributor,


    (The Center Square) — New Jersey lawmakers are moving to provide more food assistance to low income residents with a pandemic-related expansion of the federal food stamp program set to expire next month.

    A proposal approved by the General Assembly last week, which is awaiting action by Gov. Phil Murphy, would increase the minimum monthly benefit under the state's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, previously known as food stamps, from $50 to $95 for qualifying households.

    The measure , which was filed by Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex, would authorize the state Department of Human Services to increase that amount by more if additional state or federal money becomes available.

    It's not exactly clear how much the plan would cost New Jersey taxpayers.

    A fiscal note attached to the bill suggested bringing households’ monthly SNAP benefits up to $95 would increase annual state expenditures by $21.5 million.

    But the analysis pointed out because data on the distribution of federal SNAP benefits among the state's residents is "not publicly available," the Office of Legislative Services "cannot determine the magnitude of the annual cost increase."

    The move to shore up monthly contributions to the food stamp program comes as a federal pandemic-era program that boosted monthly food benefits is set to end next month.

    Lisa Pitz, director of Hunger Free New Jersey, said the expanded federal SNAP benefits have been a "lifeline" for many New Jersey families living on the margins, and said ending them will disproportionately affect seniors and people with disabilities.

    "The end of SNAP emergency allotments is going to leave many New Jerseyans in crisis, losing federal benefits that they have depended on for the past three years," she said.

    There are about 400,000 families and 770,000 individuals receiving SNAP benefits in New Jersey, according to state data.

    State officials have been trying to prepare participating families for the anticipated cut in monthly SNAP benefits as the federal expansion sunsets.

    “We understood the extra SNAP benefits were temporary, but we also recognize the impact this will have on New Jerseyans who have benefitted from greater assistance over the last three years," Human Services Commissioner Sarah Adelman said in a statement.

    She urged SNAP households to check their benefits in coming weeks, "so they are prepared before heading to the grocery store."

    A bill signed by Murphy last year raised the SNAP monthly minimum, up from the federally-set minimum of $23 for this year, ensuring that qualifying households get at least $50 a month when the federal benefits end.

    Expand All
    Comments / 0
    Add a Comment
    Most Popular newsMost Popular

    Comments / 0