Lawmakers agree to increasing food assistance

With a pandemic-related extension of the federal food stamp program about to expire next month, New Jersey lawmakers are taking action to give greater food aid to low-income citizens.

Food Stamps

The minimum monthly payout under the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, for qualified households would increase from $50 to $95 under a proposal adopted by the General Assembly last week and pending Governor Phil Murphy’s signature.

Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex, introduced the bill, which would allow the state Department of Human Services to boost that sum further if extra state or federal funding becomes available.

The actual cost to taxpayers in New Jersey of the scheme is unclear.

According to a budgetary note included with the measure, raising monthly SNAP payments for households to $95 would result in an additional $21.5 million in state spending per year.

However, the report noted that the Office of Legislative Services “cannot quantify the extent of the yearly cost increase” since information about the distribution of federal SNAP payments among the state’s citizens is “not publicly available.”

Assistance Scheduled

A federal pandemic-era program that increased monthly food assistance is scheduled to expire next month, prompting the decision to strengthen monthly payments to the food stamp program.

According to Lisa Pitz, director of Hunger Free New Jersey, the extended federal SNAP benefits have been a “lifeline” for many low-income New Jersey families, and their termination would disproportionately affect elderly and disabled individuals.

“Many New Jersey residents would be left in a crisis as a result of the termination of SNAP emergency allotments, losing federal funds they have relied on for the previous three years,” she said.

According to state statistics, there are around 400,000 households and 770,000 people in New Jersey receiving SNAP benefits.

As the federal expansion comes to an end, state authorities have been working to get participating families ready for the anticipated reduction in monthly SNAP payments.

In a statement, Human Services Commissioner Sarah Adelman stated, “We recognized the additional SNAP benefits were temporary, but we also appreciate the impact this would have on New Jerseyans who have benefited from more assistance over the previous three years.”

In the upcoming weeks, she asked SNAP households to verify their benefits “so they are prepared before traveling to the food shop.”

The SNAP monthly minimum was boosted by a statute Murphy signed last year, increasing it from the federally-imposed minimum of $23 for this year to ensure that qualified households get at least $50 per month after the federal payments stop.

Other reports, Providing Food Assistance

Governor Greg Abbott announced that the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) will provide emergency Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) food benefits totaling more than $345.9 million for the entire month of February.

The final month that eligible households can get emergency SNAP assistance is February 2023, according to legislation that Congress just approved. About 1.6 million Texas families are anticipated to benefit from the allocations.

The U.S. government gave HHSC official clearance. Depending on the size of the household, the Department of Agriculture will provide participants the maximum amount of SNAP payments. All SNAP households will get emergency allotments totaling at least $95 each.

By February 28, this additional emergency allocation ought to be visible in beneficiaries’ accounts.

Recipients will no longer get extra benefits as a result of the federal law enacted by Congress, and this benefit change cannot be contested.

SNAP families may check into their account on or the mobile app to see how much their normal monthly benefit amount will be without the emergency allowance. They can also dial 2-1-1 and choose Option 2.