Andrzejczak Bill to Ensure Food Assistance Benefits for Residents Struggling to Find Work Advances

An Assembly panel on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Bob Andrzejczak to help ensure that residents struggling to find work can still receive critical food assistance benefits from the state.

The bill (A-3622) would require the state to pledge to ensure the availability of education, training, or workfare opportunities that will permit certain participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also called food stamps) to remain eligible for benefits beyond the current three-month time limit.

“The state can help these individuals avoid the loss of SNAP benefits, while simultaneously preparing them for long-term employment, by ensuring the availability of qualifying education, training, or workfare opportunities,” said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). “This important change will ensure that someone struggling to find employment is able to put food on the table for their family.”

Current federal rules establish a time limit of three months of SNAP eligibility during any three-year period for “able-bodied adults without dependents” if they are unable to find qualifying employment, education, job training, or workfare activities.

Historically, this time limit has generally been waived in New Jersey in regions of the state with high unemployment. However, the Department of Human Services declined to request any such waivers for 2016, which may result in an estimated 11,000 individuals losing SNAP benefits.

The Department of Labor and Workforce Development currently operates the SNAP Employment & Training Program, which is funded with a combination of state and federal funds. By pledging to ensure this availability, the state would also qualify to receive a portion of the $20 million in federal funds allocated for such “pledge states.”

The bill was approved by the Assembly Human Services Committee.