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Assembly Bills Designed to Increase Senior Participation In State Nutrition Program Clear Assembly Committee

Looking to simplify and streamline seniors’ access to New Jersey  Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) programs, a three-bill legislative package cleared the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee Monday.

One bill (A-5311) would establish a $140 standard medical deduction for qualifying seniors under the SNAP Program. It is sponsored by Assembly Democrats John Armato (D-Atlantic), Andrew Zwicker (D-Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset) and Matthew Milam (Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland).

The other legislative effort, (A-5312), would require the Commissioner of Human Services to review and streamline the SNAP application process for seniors and conduct outreach regarding their participation. It is sponsored by Assemblymen John Armato (D-Atlantic), Roy Freiman (D- Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset) and R. Bruce Land (A- Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland).

The third measure (A-5313) would permit self-verification of shelter expenses, utility expenses, childcare expenses, and adult dependent care expenses, unless the information is questionable, on the SNAP application for qualifying seniors. Assemblymen Land, Armato and Freiman are the bill’s sponsors.

The legislators released the following joint statement:

“Less than half of New Jersey residents 60 and older who are eligible for SNAP benefits use them. These bills look to increase senior participation by simplifying the application process, allowing seniors to apply for SNAP through multiple points of entry, and utilizing a comprehensive community outreach and public awareness campaign.

“Taking these steps will make seniors more likely to take advantage of the SNAP benefits which can help them maintain a healthy diet.”

The bills were introduced on May 13 and complement an anti-hunger bill package introduced by Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin last fall. They now await further Assembly consideration.