Bill to Allow Students to Qualify for SNAP Benefits Passes in Committee

A New Jersey Assembly committee has approved a bill introduced in August 2020 that would allow students to qualify for SNAP benefits.

The bill would require the Department of Human Services to authorize a student of higher education who is the recipient of an award from the New Jersey Educational Opportunity Fund to obtain SNAP benefits, regardless of whether the student satisfies the 20-hour weekly work requirement established by federal law.

There is on important caveat, however. Because SNAP was established under federal law, the bill is subject to compliance with the federally established work requirements and eligibility criteria. Thus, if the bill is passed and signed into law by Governor Murphy, it would only be able to go into effect if the federal Food and Nutrition Service approves the change and authorizes a waiver of existing federal student work requirements for students to be eligible for SNAP benefits.

The bill requires New Jersey’s Commissioner of Human Services to apply to the Food and Nutrition Service to secure the federal approvals and/or waivers that would be necessary for the legislation to be implemented and take any additional action necessary to ensure the bill’s compliance with state and federal laws and regulations.

If the approvals and waivers are granted, the Department of Health and Human Services will be tasked with implementing the bill’s expanded SNAP eligibility requirements and will have to mount a public awareness campaign designed to inform high school seniors and students of higher education about the new SNAP eligibility criteria for Educational Opportunity Fund recipients.

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