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Expanding Food Assistance has been Approved by Lawmakers

As a pandemic-related increase in the federal food stamp program is about to expire the following month, New Jersey lawmakers are taking action to provide greater food aid to low-income citizens.

The lowest monthly payout under the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly called as food stamps, for eligible families would boost from $50 to $95 under a proposal passed 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 exact cost to taxpayers in the New Jersey program is unclear.

According to a financial note included with the measure, raising monthly SNAP benefits for families 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 estimate the amount of the annual cost increase” since information regarding the distribution of federal SNAP payments between the state’s citizens is “not publicly available.”

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

The increased federal SNAP benefits, according to Lisa Pitz, director of Hunger Free New Jersey, are a “lifeline” for many low-income families in New Jersey, and their removal will unfairly affect the elderly and people with disabilities.

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