New Jersey’s Food Stamp Failure: Hundreds of Thousands of Struggling New Jerseyans Losing Nutritional Benefits

Contact: Jon Whiten, 609-393-1145 ext. 15 or

New Jersey’s Food Stamp Failure: Hundreds of Thousands of Struggling New Jerseyans Losing Nutritional Benefits
New Jersey Also Stands to Lose Hundreds of Millions of Dollars

New Jersey’s inadequate support of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) is resulting in the delay or the denial of critical food benefits to hundreds of thousands of struggling New Jerseyans and the potential loss of up to $500 million in federal funds annually, according to a report released today by New Jersey Policy Perspective.

The report finds that New Jersey is failing to serve hungry New Jerseyans who rely on SNAP in three major ways:

• The Christie administration has rejected “Heat and Eat” benefits, resulting in SNAP cuts to the most vulnerable.

• The state continues to be close to the worst in the nation in reaching eligible residents, leaving hundreds of thousands of needy New Jerseyans without benefits.

• The state is also failing to process SNAP applications in a timely manner, leading to long delays for hungry residents and, now, the potential loss of federal funding.

“Together these deficiencies show that lack of state leadership is undermining the most essential safety net program in New Jersey during a time of high unemployment, record foreclosures and growing poverty – in other words, when it is needed most,” says New Jersey Policy Perspective senior policy analyst and report author Raymond Castro. “Denying this nutritional assistance will not only force more New Jerseyans to go hungry, it will also hurt the state’s fragile economy because it means the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds.”

The Christie administration needs to immediately reverse course, give full support to SNAP and ensure that as many needy New Jerseyans as possible are receiving these crucial nutritional benefits.

The state should:

• Maintain Heat and Eat benefits to prevent further cuts to SNAP

• Allocate outreach funds to help New Jersey enroll more eligible residents in SNAP

• Take steps to promote the highest standard of service for SNAP recipients

• Make emergency funds available to address staffing and other needs at county welfare agencies and upgrade its antiquated eligibility system

• In the longer term, overhaul how social safety-net benefits are provided

“The administration’s pledge to ‘engage our most vulnerable citizens’ has taken an odd path: cutting those citizens off from the chance to feed themselves,” says New Jersey Policy Perspective president Gordon MacInnes. “What’s worse, these folks could have been helped with funds supplied by the federal government and negligible, if any, cost to New Jersey taxpayers. Since New Jersey ranks at the bottom for the return on its tax payments to Washington, this was a chance to return $54 – maybe more – for every dollar invested.”