Nearly 600,000 New Jersey schoolchildren could quality for extra food benefits that otherwise would have been spent on free or reduced meals at school, officials said.
Schools have been closed since mid-March due to the coronavirus outbreak.
New Jersey requested assistance from the Trump Administration, which gave its OK on Monday for proximately $248 million in federal aid.
Each student who currently quality for subsidized meals will get an extra $416.10, officials said.
Families already receiving aid under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will have the money added to their electronic benefits cards. Those who do not currently get what formerly were known as food stamps will have a new, separate card mailed to them.
The state Department of Human Services said the extra food benefits should reach families by next month. No application is necessary to receive this benefit.
“We are doing everything we can to ensure people throughout New Jersey have access to food assistance during this difficult time, especially children,” state Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson said in a press statement. “Children should never go hungry, and approval of our plan is another step forward in our fight against hunger amid COVID-19.”
"This program will help ensure New Jersey children will get the nutrition they need,” Human Services Deputy Commissioner Elisa Neira said. “We’ve been working hard to boost access to food assistance during this difficult time. This is a crucial step toward meeting that goal.
In addition to federal approval of the "Pandemic-EBT" plan, Human Services has:
- Distributed an extra $106 million in additional benefits to SNAP recipients since the start of the COVID-19 emergency.
- Ensured that everyone whose benefits were up for renewal in March and April, or are due in May or June were extended for six months.
- Made it easier to apply for SNAP during this emergency by waiving the normally required interview and the hard copy signature on applications, to reduce the need for face-to-face interactions.
“We continue to urge residents to visit njhelps.org to learn more and apply for food assistance and other benefits,” said Human Services Assistant Commissioner Natasha Johnson, who directs the Division of Family Development that oversees NJ SNAP.
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