State Announces Expansion of Food Assistance Programs

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Representatives of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s Administration were joined Monday by anti-hunger advocates, MCC students, higher education officials and legislators to announce it has expanded the state’s food assistance program to career and technical education students at community colleges.

During a visit to Middlesex County College, Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson said the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, is now available to students enrolled in community college career and technical education programs.

In 2017, 67,000 students were enrolled in such programs, with an estimated 45 percent considered low-income based on financial aid records. Through this initiative, Ms. Johnson said students who meet SNAP income and other eligibility criteria will receive a student exemption if they are enrolled in career and technical education, making them eligible to apply for SNAP.

“SNAP is the first line of defense against hunger, and that must include everyone,” Ms. Johnson said. “Governor Murphy is committed to building a stronger New Jersey for everyone, including those working hard to improve their lives. They should not be left behind when it comes to this crucial nutritional assistance program. I’m thrilled that we’re able to expand this program, which is a win for everyone.”

Ms. Johnson noted that the Department of Human Services earlier this year met with advocates from Hunger Free NJ to discuss how to expand SNAP eligibility for college students and raise awareness of food assistance on college campuses. The Department also engaged with the
Council of County Colleges and the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education to increase college student participation in SNAP.

SNAP has been available to students ages 18- to 50-years-old enrolled at least half time in higher education, including colleges; universities; community colleges; or business, technical, trade or vocational school requiring a high school diploma. An individual also has to meet at least one of these conditions:

  • Employed at least 20 hours per week and paid at least minimum wage
  • Participating in a federal work study program during the school year
  • Participating in an on-the-job training program
  • Responsible for the care of a member of the household who is a dependent under the age of 6
  • A single parent enrolled full-time and responsible for a dependent under the age 12 years-old
  • Unable to work due to a physical or mental disability

The Murphy Administration is now designating all approved Career and Technical Education Programs at a New Jersey community college as equivalent to the SNAP Employment and Training Programs which are exempt from work requirements to increase student access.