Hunger & Coronavirus Crisis
Addressing Hunger During Outbreak
There have been significant state and federal responses aimed at addressing hunger during the COVID-19 outbreak. While there is still more to do, here is the latest info about state and federal response to help schools feed students during this closure, help people keep and apply for food assistance and increase funding for these programs.
Yes, many New Jersey districts are providing meals to families through distribution sites or by delivering to homes. Service varies from district to district. Parents and other caregivers should contact their local school for information on meal distribution.
The NJ Department of Human Services has taken the following steps to make the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, aka food stamps) and other assistance more readily available:
- Automatically extending for 60 days WorkFirst New Jersey cash assistance to individuals whose case is up for renewal in March or April;
- Extending all Emergency Assistance cases through April 30;
- Exempting SNAP and WorkFirst New Jersey recipients from attending work or training programs,
- Convening New Jersey food banks and community pantries to focus on preparedness planning and distribution.
New SNAP Applicants
With county welfare offices largely closed to the public, the New Jersey Department of Human Services is encouraging residents in need to apply for SNAP food assistance or cash assistance online at NJHelps.org. Interviews are being conducted by phone. Any needed documentation (i.e. pay stubs) or other paperwork can be mailed or faxed. Some county welfare agencies are providing drop boxes outside the offices where applicants can leave documentation.
SNAP provides monthly benefits through Electronic Debt Transfers (EBTs) for recipients to buy food at grocery stores and other retail outlets. For more info, visit NJSNAP.org.
We are working with state and federal officials to provide more flexibility to SNAP, so stay tuned.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance for Women Infants and Children, commonly known as WIC, is also working to implement flexibilities to help pregnant women, mothers of young children, infants and toddlers receive assistance. The New Jersey Department of Health, which administers WIC, is working on providing guidance to local agencies waiving requirements that people physically come to the office for initial approvals and re-certifications, according to state health officials.
While most local WIC offices are closed to the public, all are conducting some level of WIC services, such as nutrition education and breastfeeding supports. All of the local agencies are also issuing three months worth of checks to participants. Agencies are either mailing those checks or establishing a pick-up time, which is conducted with social distancing in mind.