TRENTON - Human Services Acting Commissioner Sarah Adelman July 21 announced the department has begun delivering extra food assistance benefits to school children who would have received free or reduced-price, in-school meals if not for virtual learning due to Covid.
According to a Human Services release, the first round of benefits in extra food assistance began being delivered on July 20 to 142,000 children, whose households are already enrolled in the state’s Supplemental Assistance Nutrition Program (SNAP). The benefits for September 2020 will be available on their Families First EBT card, with the additional monthly benefits a family is eligible for being delivered through the upcoming weeks.
Households may receive multiple payments through the summer, depending on their circumstances.
Also, by the end of this week, new electronic benefit cards with the extra food assistance benefits will begin being sent to 236,000 children whose families are not enrolled in SNAP. Cards will be mailed through mid-August, and families should keep their new cards for possible future benefits.
The benefits will total $272 million.
Recipients can check their Families First account balance by visiting www.NJFamiliesFirst.com or by calling the phone number on the back of their card.
“We remain committed to supporting families by providing additional food security to eligible children,” Adelman stated. “Throughout the pandemic, these additional food security benefits have been critical for so many children who lost the nutritional support usually provided by the free and reduced meals program while in school. We will continue to look for all opportunities to provide food assistance to families and children.”
“Ensuring children have nutritional support is a priority, especially considering the difficulties faced by many children during the pandemic,” Deputy Commissioner Elisa Neira stated. “These additional benefits will help support healthy families and children and continue our efforts to provide as much food assistance we possibly can to New Jersey households.”
Human Services has worked with school districts through the state to devise this assistance. Benefit amounts will vary based on the information schools provided to determine if they were on a virtual or hybrid schedule.
The maximum benefit for fully virtual is $122.76 per child per month and $61.38 per child per month for hybrid.
The benefits are part of the federal Pandemic-Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) program. Visit here for more information on the P-EBT program.
Schools actively continue to submit eligible student information. and parents will receive P-EBT benefits accordingly. Those with questions regarding the information submitted by the school, recipients may contact the schools directly.
When this round is completed, Human Services will have issued about $437 million in P-EBT benefits during the pandemic. This includes $130.5 million in benefits sent recently to New Jersey Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) households with children under 6 years of age, as part of an expanded P-EBT program.
P-EBT benefits can be used at participating SNAP EBT retailers and online at Amazon and participating locations of ALDI, Shoprite, Super Foodtown, The Fresh Grocer and Walmart.
Human Services has also distributed $846.2 million in supplemental monthly SNAP payments to households since March 2020 to assist with food needs during the pandemic. That assistance will continue in August.
“We encourage residents who need food assistance to visit and apply for SNAP online, at www.NJHelps.org,” stated Assistant Commissioner Natasha Johnson, who directs Human Services’ Division of Family Development and oversees the SNAP program.