Advocates for poor in N.J. mobilize against U.S. cuts to food stamp program

Workers sort food donations. (Community Food Bank of New Jersey)

Workers sort food donations. (Community Food Bank of New Jersey)

Advocates are launching a statewide effort to protect a program that provides food assistance for about 800,000  New Jersey residents.

The federal budget Congress is considering could cut hundreds of millions of dollars from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that helps low-income workers and senior citizens buy the food their families need, said Adele LaTourette, director of the New Jersey Anti-Hunger Coalition.

“More than three-quarters of New Jersey’s SNAP families had at least one working adult in the past 12 months. Two of five of the SNAP households include children,” she said. “We have 142,000 senior citizens on the program, which is 8 percent of our population.”

The federal program, also known as food stamps, pumps about $1.2 billion into New Jersey’s economy each year.

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“Without it, it would be a disaster,” LaTourette said. “I mean, we have pantries in the state, food banks in the state, they’re already at max capacity. So some of them could not, in fact, cover the kinds of numbers that they would be looking at.”

The coalition hopes its campaign will persuade the state’s congressional delegation to oppose cuts.

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