Lawmakers Urge USDA to Allow NJ SNAP Beneficiaries to Participate in Online Shopping Pilot Program Amidst COVID-19 Outbreak

U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker (both D-N.J.) and Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-NJ-09) sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to request that New Jersey’s recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits be eligible to participate in a pilot program that allows the use of SNAP benefits for the purchase of SNAP eligible products online from approved online retailers. This will help protect the program’s recipients amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the state.

“The State of New Jersey was selected in April 2019 by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) as eligible to participate in the SNAP online purchasing pilot program though has not yet been formally admitted to the pilot program,” the lawmakers wrote to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue. “In light of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, we request that USDA immediately allow New Jersey SNAP recipients to participate in this pilot program.”

SNAP recipients in Alabama, Iowa, New York, Oregon and Washington can use their benefits to purchase SNAP products online through the USDA’s pilot program. Nearly a year after New Jersey was made eligible to participate in the pilot program, the state has yet to be formally admitted.

“Allowing New Jerseyans to use their SNAP benefits for online purchases will protect them and all New Jerseyans as we continue to fight spread of the COVID-19 virus. We request that USDA make this authorization immediately in order to protect New Jersey SNAP recipients,” the lawmakers concluded.

SNAP is the nation’s most important anti-hunger program and currently benefits 705,000 New Jersey residents. The majority of SNAP beneficiaries in New Jersey are families with children, and more than 37% are families with members who are elderly or have disabilities.

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