We’re pleased to share a bright light in this dreary winter. A new report shows more people in New Jersey are receiving the critical benefits they need to help put food on the table. It is good news for the more than one million New Jersey residents who struggle with food insecurity every day. It is also welcome news here at the Community FoodBank of New Jersey. Several years ago, we added Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) outreach to our food assistance programs.
The SNAP program (formerly known as Food Stamps) is the most effective nutrition assistance program in America. The program helps more than 46 million people meet their food needs. Unfortunately, this important program has long been underutilized in New Jersey, leaving millions of federal dollars on the table that would help struggling families. In 2010, only 62% of those eligible in New Jersey received the benefits. But as the report from the Food Research and Action Center highlights, just two years later that number jumped to 77%. The Community FoodBank of New Jersey is proud to be part of that change.
Last year, our SNAP outreach staff met with more than 4,000 people to screen them for SNAP benefits, and helped more than 2,400 apply. To put it in perspective, that translated into an average of $164 each month that became available to each family to buy food. Diane Riley, our Director of Advocacy, leads the outreach effort, and says, “It is very gratifying to know that the people we meet every day, including seniors on fixed incomes and working parents who often don’t have enough money left at the end of the month, can now purchase what they need to eat. The report just confirmed what we already knew. Our SNAP outreach program is an important way the Community FoodBank continues its mission to fight hunger in New Jersey.”