TRENTON - As Thanksgiving approaches and thoughts turn to food, friends, and family, New Jersey Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson announced Nov. 6 a special focus on combating hunger in New Jersey by connecting families to the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or NJ SNAP, which can help working families and individuals with lower incomes afford groceries.
According to a release, nearly 900,000 New Jersey residents are food insecure, meaning they lack regular access to enough affordable food for themselves and their families.
The food insecure in New Jersey includes more than 260,000 children and 200,000 older residents.
"In New Jersey, we want to lift up individuals and families who are having difficulty making ends meet so that they can thrive in their communities,” stated Gov. Phil Murphy. “The Trump Administration’s policies do the opposite by trying to cut SNAP benefits that are critical to many New Jerseyans. As we begin to enter the holiday season, we are committed to ensuring that our families, friends, and neighbors are receiving the assistance they need to make sure no one goes hungry."
“For New Jersey’s children to thrive, to learn in school today, and to have a chance at the best possible tomorrow, they need to know that they have a reliable source of food and nutrition. No child should go hungry. No child should face constant anxiety and worry about where their next meal is coming from. For older New Jerseyans, it should never be the case that they are forced to choose between paying for food and paying for their prescriptions. And, for working families and individuals with lower incomes, the combination of rising rents and increased food costs can make it challenging to get on the best financial footing,” Johnson stated. “This Thanksgiving season, NJ Human Services is pleased to join with community organizations across the state to get the word out about NJ SNAP. If you or someone you know regularly struggles to afford food, we urge you to visit njsnap.gov to learn more about how NJ SNAP can help.”
As part of the effort, Murphy has declared NJ SNAP Awareness Week in New Jersey from Nov. 10-16 to encourage residents struggling with hunger or food insecurity to learn more about SNAP.
In New Jersey, individuals and families with incomes up to 185% of the federal poverty level ($23,017 for an individual and $39,461 for a family of three) may be eligible for SNAP depending on their assets and other expenses. An individual can be eligible for as much as $194 per month and a family of three can be eligible for as much as $509 per month, depending on their assets and expenses.
Nearly 700,000 New Jersey residents rely on NJ SNAP for help buying groceries. About 6,000 grocers, community markets, bodegas, farmer’s markets and other food retailers in New Jersey participate in NJ SNAP, generating approximately $1 billion annually in revenue for these New Jersey businesses.
Individuals can learn more about NJ SNAP and apply at njsnap.gov or by visiting their county board of social services.
“No family should have to choose between paying their bills and eating a nutritious meal,” stated Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin,who has made fighting hunger a top priority. “In 2017, one in every 11 New Jersey residents was a recipient of SNAP benefits. Not only does this demonstrate the program works, but it shows that with expansion it’s a program with potential for even greater reach.”
“In this season of giving when much attention is focused on the importance of food and community, NJ Human Services is working with community leaders to bring greater awareness to how NJ SNAP can help fight hunger in New Jersey,” Johnson stated. “NJ SNAP is our State’s most critical anti-hunger program and the first-line of defense against food insecurity. We hope that as New Jerseyans gather together with friends and family this holiday season, everyone can spread the word about helping those in need connect to food assistance through NJ SNAP.”
NJ SNAP Awareness Week comes as the Trump Administration is proposing various policies that would make it harder to access the program, including a proposed rule that threatens 68,000 New Jerseyans SNAP benefits.
“While the Trump Administration is threatening critical programs like SNAP, the Murphy administration is focused on increasing awareness of this vital program and working with partners to connect eligible New Jerseyans to SNAP,” Human Services Deputy Commissioner Elisa Neira stated. “SNAP is a crucial program that supports stronger families and communities. The Trump Administration is pushing policies that would hurt vulnerable residents, but in New Jersey we want to ensure that anyone who may be eligible for SNAP is applying”
NJ Human Services is working with county boards of social services, community food pantries and food banks, grocers, the faith community, and community organizations to get the word out about how NJ SNAP can help fight hunger.