NJ Human Services Announces $40.3 Million More in Additional Food Assistance
Many New Jerseyans who receive food assistance through the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (NJ SNAP) will receive additional benefits in September to help address critical food needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
An additional estimated $40.3 million will be provided to about 236,000 New Jersey households for September.
SNAP supplemental payments were included in the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Human Services has already provided about $219 million in additional NJ SNAP benefits total in March, April, May, June, July, and August to New Jerseyans to help purchase groceries.
“It continues to be critical to provide as much food assistance as possible to eligible New Jersey households,” Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson said. “I thank our state’s Congressional delegation for their ongoing work to protect residents as we respond to this pandemic. These additional food assistance benefits make a difference.”
“I am fully supportive of any initiative to combat food insecurity and help more New Jerseyans feed their families,” Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex) said. “Sadly, too many families in New Jersey have to choose between paying their bills and eating a nutritious meal and this problem has only been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now more than ever, we must seek ways to continue to address the rising number of young children affected by hunger and the increasing trend of hunger surfacing at our colleges as students begin returning to campus. I am pleased that we’re enhancing benefits for SNAP recipients at a time it's needed most."
The supplemental benefits will be directly loaded to NJ SNAP recipients’ Families First EBT cards as part of their regular monthly payment.
NJ SNAP provides food assistance to families with low incomes to help them buy groceries through a benefits card accepted in most food retail stores and farmer’s markets. Families can now also use their cards at select online grocery retailers to help maintain social distancing during the pandemic.
The program serves about 735,000 New Jerseyans in about 376,000 households, with the monthly SNAP benefit based on household size and income.
“Additional food assistance remains more important than ever to families and individuals facing this economic and health crisis,” Human Services Deputy Commissioner Elisa Neira said. “We continue to be pleased to provide this continued help when it’s needed most.”
“We encourage residents who need food assistance to visit and apply for SNAP online at www.NJHelps.org,” said Assistant Commissioner Natasha Johnson, who directs Human Services’ Division of Family Development and oversees the SNAP program. “I also thank the county Boards of Social Services staff who have worked tirelessly through this public health crisis to get vital assistance to households.”
Human Services has also taken the following steps to help New Jerseyans access affordable food during the emergency:
- Providing $226 million in special food assistance benefits to more than 544,000 New Jersey children who otherwise would have received free or reduced-price school meals if not for COVID-19 school closures.
- Launched online grocery ordering for SNAP recipients through Amazon, Walmart, ShopRite and The Fresh Grocer.
- Made it easier to apply for SNAP by waiving the normally required interview and the hard copy signature on applications to reduce the need for face-to-face interactions.
- Through a new online tool, available on NJOneApp, made it possible for SNAP applicants to upload the documentation needed for applications electronically instead of mailing or dropping off documents to the county enrollment offices.
- Ensured that everyone whose benefits were up for renewal in March, April, May, June, July and August were extended for six months.
- Updated our online system to make it easier for SNAP applicants to track their application.
- Developed a guide to educate immigrant families on what benefits are impacted by the federal public charge rule to combat misinformation.
- Presented in various virtual forums to update service providers on these critical changes to help get the word out to families in need of food assistance.