Governor Murphy Declares NJ SNAP Awareness Week as Holiday Season Approaches;
NJ Human Services Working with Food Pantries, the Faith Community, Grocers and Others to Help New Jerseyans Connect to SNAP
(TRENTON) - As Thanksgiving approaches and thoughts turn to food, friends and family, New Jersey Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson today announced a special focus on combatting 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.
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 include 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,” said Governor 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,” Commissioner Johnson said. “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, Governor Murphy has declared NJ SNAP Awareness Week in New Jersey from November 10th through 16th 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 percent 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.
Today, 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.
“No family should have to choose between paying their bills and eating a nutritious meal,” said 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,” Commissioner Johnson said. “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 said. “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.
“I believe that SNAP is essential,” said the Rev. Dr. James A. Dunkins, senior pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church in Vineland. “NJ SNAP can give people the option of getting nutritious food that they can afford, which will also improve their quality of life.” During SNAP Awareness Week, Shiloh Baptist Church will be hosting a food drive and providing SNAP information and applications.
For NJ SNAP Awareness Week, Grice Middle School in Hamilton in Mercer County will be helping parents to learn about free and reduced price lunches and helping promote NJ SNAP as an option for eligible families.
"Schools in our nation are the keystone to our community and an extension of our families,” said Rashaan Monroe, Vice Principal at Grice Middle School. “Our school has made a commitment to help ensure that our families and students have healthy meals to eat at school and at home. This allows our students to focus on their learning and their school experience."
“Nationwide, many college students experience food insecurity,” said Kerri Willson, director of Rutgers University-New Brunswick’s Off-Campus Living and Community Partnerships, which launched the Rutgers Student Food Pantry. “Rutgers University–New Brunswick helps address this need for our students through our student food pantry and a variety of campus supports. SNAP is a key component of these efforts.”
"As the state's largest anti-hunger organization, we know that SNAP provides critical support to our neighbors in need and is a major part of how the FoodBank fights hunger--a year-round problem for 1 in 10 New Jersey residents that hurts even more during the holidays,” said Carlos Rodriguez, President & CEO of the Community FoodBank of New Jersey. "That's why our team provides SNAP application assistance statewide, and it's why we must do everything we can to increase SNAP awareness among those who are eligible. At the FoodBank, we know firsthand that SNAP helps our neighbors in need to access affordable, nutritious food during economic rough patches, stimulates shopping at local businesses, and relieves a burden on hungry families that we see all too often--having to make difficult decisions between food and other basic necessities. The FoodBank welcomes the opportunity to partner with the NJ Department of Human Services to create awareness and further SNAP outreach efforts."
“SNAP is the nation’s first line of defense against hunger,’’ said Adele LaTourette, director of Hunger Free New Jersey. “In New Jersey, roughly three-quarters of eligible residents receive this critical nutrition aid, so there is room for growth. We applaud and support the department’s efforts to spread the word about SNAP, giving New Jersey residents healthy food to eat, every single day.’’
“The elevated poverty rates in South Jersey makes SNAP a vital part of the effort to alleviate food insecurity in the cities and rural communities of the region,” said Fred Wasiak, Food Bank of South Jersey President and CEO. “Low-income children, seniors and families rely heavily on these benefits to obtain healthy, nutritious food, which, as we know, critically important particularly for the seniors and small children who are most at-risk from food deprivation.”
“SNAP is crucial for healthy families, but it’s also a vital economic force for New Jersey retailers, bringing $1 billion into communities across the state last year through grocery stores, bodegas and other venues,” said Linda M. Doherty, New Jersey Food Council President and CEO. “SNAP is crucial to the quality of life in New Jersey in many ways.”
“NJ SNAP is making a difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans,” said Assistant Commissioner Natasha Johnson, who directs Human Services’ Division of Family Development. “During this holiday season and throughout the year, we will continue to work with our county partners to help residents learn more about how NJ SNAP can help their families.”