UPDATE: Assembly Clears Bill to Permanently Elevate Monthly NJ SNAP Benefit to $95

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps roughly 400,000 New Jerseyans afford fresh and nutritious groceries. Acting to strengthen the program, the Assembly voted 74-3-0 on Thursday passing legislation that would raise the SNAP benefit floor from $50 to $95, in perpetuity.

“No one’s first and biggest challenge on any given day should be how to feed themselves and their family,” said bill sponsor Assembly Speaker Craig J. Coughlin (D-Middlesex), whose signature legislative mission is fighting hunger. “A program proven to reduce food insecurity among those with the fewest resources to purchase food, SNAP is critical for so many from our children and families to our seniors.”

Under the bill (A-5086), sponsored by Assembly Speaker Coughlin, Assemblywoman McKnight, and Assemblywoman Lopez, the State would supplement federal funding of the SNAP program to establish a minimum benefit floor of $95. This comes as emergency allotments from the federal government during the pandemic, which temporarily boosted SNAP to provide a minimum monthly benefit of $95, end on February 28.

Through legislation signed by the Governor in June 2022, New Jersey’s state SNAP benefit floor was raised to provide a monthly minimum benefit of $50 starting in 2023. The bill cleared by the Assembly today builds upon that and means about 46,000 SNAP households, who could have seen their benefits reduce by up to $45, will not.

“People across the country are staring down a hunger cliff,” said bill sponsor Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-Hudson), who serves as chair of the Assembly Aging and Senior Services Committee. “Many, if not most, of the households at risk are seniors and individuals with disabilities. These are people who live on fixed incomes and whose health depends on good nutrition, so it’s crucial for us to take this step to keep fresh groceries in their shopping carts.”

“These are challenging times as inflation stretches people’s budgets, especially at the grocery store,” said bill sponsor Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez (D-Middlesex). “For those struggling with food insecurity who receive SNAP, the program has restored dignity and helped eliminate the compromise between keeping the lights on and food on the table. We’re not about to let that change.”

The legislation unanimously cleared the Assembly Human Services Committee on January 19 following Speaker Coughlin’s testimony.

Coughlin proudly celebrated widespread support, noting this as, “an area where we have enjoyed universal, bipartisan support in terms of standing up for people who are struggling with food insecurity. Our ability to improve people’s daily realities has been truly remarkable.”

Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex) sponsors the bill’s Senate counterpart, which advanced through the Senate Economic Growth Committee today. The bill now awaits further action by the Senate.

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