Some of the foremost nonpartisan health, nutrition, and economic organizations in the United States — including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the American Heart Association, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the Food Research & Action Center, and Feeding America — called on Congress to increase monthly SNAP payments by 15% a month ($100 for a family of four) for the duration of the economic downturn.
The COVID-19 stimulus bills that Congress passed in March offered some help. In addition, New Jersey received an additional $36 million in SNAP that was distributed to households in June. And, to its credit, New Jersey proposed and received federal support to provide about $415 in special food assistance for each of nearly 600,000 children who are missing out on free or reduced-price school meals while schools are closed by the pandemic. But states like New Jersey will need significantly more federal help to get through not only the pandemic itself, but the longer-term economic recovery.
In New Jersey, about 674,000 people in 343,000 households receive SNAP assistance, and can now use their benefits to order groceries online – but only 214,000 of recipients are eligible for emergency COVID-19 response allotments because, under federal law, no family already getting the maximum benefit can receive more.
In a commentary for the The Star-Ledger/NJ.com, New Jersey Health Initiatives Director Bob Atkins and New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids State Program Director and CEO of the New Jersey YMCA State Alliance Darrin Anderson Sr. explained the unfairness of this policy and why if ever there were a time to increase SNAP assistance, this is that time.
To read the full commentary, click here.