Lawmakers aim to speed up NJ’s food assistance process

 (<a href=Photo via ShutterStock) " title="shutterstock_210938179" width="640" height="360"/>

(Photo via ShutterStock)

Some New Jersey lawmakers are pushing for action on measures aimed at ending the delays in processing applications for food assistance.

 

New Jersey ranks 52nd out of 53 state agencies nationwide in timeliness when it comes to processing applications for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps.

That lag time has real consequences, said Assemblyman Carmelo Garcia, D-Hudson

“What happens is you have children who may go to school that morning without a meal. They may go to bed at night, that family without food,” he said. “And that’s where the biggest problem lies.”

The delays could also prompt the federal government to withhold up to $500 million for the food assistance program, according to Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle, another sponsor of the legislation.

“Not only is it delaying assistance to our residents in need, but it could cost our state up to $500 million annually in federal funds,” said Huttle, D-Bergen. “We would be leaving money on the table.”

Pending legislation would address technical shortcomings that have bogged down the application process, as well as require the state to use some federal funds to hire more trained personnel to reduce the wait time.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.