To ensure that no student goes hungry in New Jersey, Assembly Democrats Mila Jasey and Pamela Lampitt sponsor a bill to extend Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) eligibility requirements for those attending higher education institutions. The Assembly Higher Education Committee released the bill on Monday.
In New Jersey, college students between the ages of 18 and 49 must meet special criteria to qualify for SNAP. Students must fit at least one of the following requirements in addition to meeting the income eligibility criteria:
- Be enrolled in an approved Career and Technical Education Program at a NJ community college;
- Be employed at least 20 hours per week;
- Participate in a federal work-study program during the school year;
- Participate in an on-the-job training program;
- Be responsible for the care of a dependent under the age of 6;
- Be a single parent enrolled full-time and responsible for a dependent under the age of 12;
- Be unable to work due to a physical or mental disability; or
- Receive Work First New Jersey cash assistance benefits.
Due to SNAP’s rigid eligibility requirements, approximately 1 out of 3 people who are food insecure do not qualify for the program. To combat this, the bill (A-6007) would revise eligibility requirements by making college students receiving unemployment eligible for SNAP.
Upon the bill’s committee approval, Assemblywomen Jasey (D-Essex, Morris) and Lampitt (Camden, Burlington) issued the following joint statement:
“When we talk about giving our students the tools they need to succeed it is about much more than what happens on our campuses or in our classrooms. We are facing a hunger crisis and, with 38% of undergraduate students facing food insecurity, we must act now.
“College is stressful enough without having to worry about where your next meal will come from. By expanding eligibility requirements for college students under SNAP we can ensure that more students receive the food assistance they need.”
The bill now heads to the Speaker for further consideration.