New Jersey Food Assistance
Food Stamps * Food Banks * Food Pantries * Soup Kitchens * WIC
School Meals * Special Milk * Summer Food * Senior Nutrition
In the State of New Jersey, there are many sources for help with food. The New Jersey Food Stamp Program, food banks, food pantries, and soup kitchens are all helping residents in need to cope with hunger and food insecurity.
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Learn more about
SNAP benefits a.k.a. Food Stamps.
Who is eligible for SNAP benefits (Food Stamps) in New Jersey?
How to apply for New Jersey Food Assistance?
How does New Jersey Division of Family Development determine eligibility?
Approved! When and how do I get the Food Stamps benefits?
How much Food Stamps benefits do participants receive per month?
How and where to use Food Stamps benefits?
Food Stamp (SNAP benefits) in New Jersey
New Jersey Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or the Food Stamps Program as it is known by the public, is a federal program that provides grants to the States for purpose of reducing hunger and malnutrition in all eligible households across the nation. SNAP helps provide healthy food to qualifying low-income families with children, elderly or disabled in each State of the USA, including New Jersey. Learn more about SNAP.
It is important to know that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is a federal entitlement program funded by U.S. Government grants. Any U.S. Citizen, even some legal alien residents will get free food assistance as long as they meet the SNAP eligibility guidelines. In other words, there is enough Supplemental Nutrition Assistance for every American that qualifies.
In New Jersey, the SNAP is known as New Jersey Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and is administered by the Division of Family Development (DFD) under the New Jersey Department of Human Services (DHS). The Federal Government pays 100% of New Jersey SNAP Benefits with federal grants appropriated for SNAP. The SNAP federal grants also pay a share of the New Jersey SNAP administrative cost.
According to the New Jersey Division of Family Development, “The purpose of the NJ SNAP (NJ Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – formerly Food Stamps) is to improve nutrition and health. It helps low-income households buy the food they need for a nutritionally adequate diet. The Program is authorized by Congress and operated by the state and local welfare offices.”
Approx. of the total New Jersey population received Food Stamp Benefits in 2018
Recipients in June, 2018 of Food Stamps (SNAP) Benefits in New Jersey
Recipients in June, 2017 of Food Stamp (SNAP) Benefits in New Jersey
Who is Eligible for SNAP (Food Stamps) in New Jersey?
The eligibility rules and benefit amounts in New Jersey, like in other States, are based on a limited income, limited liquid resources, household size, and other requirements, some of them specific to each State. Most eligibility rules are determined by regulations issued by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service.
The federal law allows States some flexibility when implementing SNAP on a State level. State agencies can adapt some of the food assistance program rules in order to meet the needs of the eligible, low‐income local populations.
New Jersey Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is designed for individuals and families with limited income resources, who compose a household, and purchase and prepare their meals together for home consumption. People living with roommates, people who are temporarily unemployed, or people who are homeless can also get food stamps if they meet specific eligibility guidelines.
Federal SNAP rules require certain people to be included in one household account even if they purchase and prepare meals separately. Husbands and wives of any household member, their children under age 22 when living together, plus children younger than 18 who are dependents of an adult household member are all considered as a part of one household formation.
In New Jersey anyone with limited income and resources may apply for food stamps but, in general, to qualify for New Jersey SNAP (Food Stamp) Benefits you must meet the following basic eligibility requirements:
- New Jersey Resident – must be a U.S. Citizen or a legal resident with SNAP eligible non-citizen status;
- Work Requirement – unless exempted, each able-bodied household member who is 16 to 60 year old must be registered to work, and accept a suitable employment offer;
- Income Limits – Income limits eligibility depends on household size and composition. Households with no elderly or disabled individuals must meet both gross and net income limits. Households with elderly or disabled individuals must meet only the net income limits. Gross income includes wages, salaries, commissions, dividends, child support, self-employment income, unemployment compensation, social security benefits, and others.
New Jersey residents may be automatically or so-called categorically eligible for SNAP benefits if they already participate in other means-tested assistance programs. Getting any benefits funded by federal grants from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance, or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) can make the applicant for SNAP benefits categorically eligible, thus bypassing the federal standards for income and assets eligibility.
Under the federal SNAP regulations, States do have to assign a gross income limit of 200% of the federal poverty line (FPL) or less in order to use any federal grant-funded benefit that can make Food Assistance applicants eligible. Currently, NJ DHS/DFD uses the gross income of 185% or less of the FPL for broad categorical eligibility. More information on NJ SNAP eligibility can be obtained by calling 1-800-687-9512.
See the table for Maximum Monthly Income (measured as a percentage of the federal poverty level – FPL) allowable for SNAP Benefits Eligibility in State of New Jersey, as per household size:
Quick Eligibility Check
Use this Pre-Screening Tool to find out if you may be eligible to get New Jersey SNAP Benefits (Food Stamps).
The screening allows interested in getting New Jersey food stamps to provide some basic information and find out if they are potentially eligible for benefits.
If you use this Pre-Screening Tool you will be notified immediately on the screen if you qualify after completing the questionnaire. This is a piece of pre-screening information, and you still have to make an application at your local NJ County Welfare Agencies/Boards of Social Services.
Even if you are unsure whether you would qualify you still may be eligible for SNAP Benefits and you should still apply. In New Jersey local County Welfare Agencies/Boards of Social Services determine who is eligible for food stamps.
To figure out, before applying, if you'd qualify for food stamps benefits in your state you have to consider the following:
- Your Household size: How many people you live and buy food with? Count:
- anyone you live with and buy and make food with
- children under 22 years old and,
- elderly 60+ and disabled that you make food for.
- Your Income: How much money does your household make? This includes both:
- earned income - the money you make from jobs and
- unearned income - cash assistance, Social Security, unemployment insurance, child support, etc.
Who counts as a member of the household for SNAP eligibility?
In general, anyone who lives with you and you buy food with counts a member of your household.
Your children under 22 of age count as household members, even if they buy and make their own food.
But your tenant, for example, or your adult children that are over 22 of age do not count. They are not counted in the household number for the purpose of food stamp benefits qualification.
The elderly age of 60+ and disabled people count as household members if you buy and make food for them, or you buy and make food together. If they live with you, but they buy and make food separately, they do not count as household members.
See the updated table below for this fiscal year's income limits and monthly benefits (allotments).
What is the gross and net income limit that qualifies you for food stamps?
SNAP Max Income for Food Stamps
Oct. 1, 2019, through Sept. 30, 2020
(130% of poverty)
(100% of poverty)
|Each additional member||+$479||+$369||+$146|
Source: USDA, SNAP Income Eligibility Standards
What are Maximum New Jersey SNAP (Food Stamps) Benefits?
If approved, the New Jersey SNAP benefit amounts depend on the household size and the amount of their net income. USDA has maximum SNAP benefit limits per month per household size. Check the table column about Max Food Assistance Benefit per month in dollars for each size of the household.
How to Apply for SNAP Benefits (Food Stamps) in New Jersey?
To apply for SNAP benefits in New Jersey you can download the “Application and Affidavit for Public Assistance” from the NJ DFD page, print it and make it as a paper application that can be mailed or turned in the any of the local NJ County Welfare Agencies/Boards of Social Services.
The same application form can be used to apply for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), General Assistance, AFDC-only Medicaid, Refugee Resettlement Program, Kinship Care Subsidy Program, and Emergency Assistance.
More than one assistance program in an application is a common practice by a lot of the States since most of the people in need of food stamps are likely to be in need of cash and other assistance.
If you are to file a paper Application for Assistance – just fill out all required information on the application and mail or turn it in any County Welfare Agency.
If you do not have all the information that is needed to complete the SNAP application, provide as much as you can – but you must include your name, social security number, and your signature for the DFA to accept it. All required information and its verification can be provided later at the interview or upon request.
To apply for SNAP benefits in New Jersey you can also do it by using the NJ OneApp web portal offered by the NJ Department of Human Services (DHS). Online, you can pre-screen and apply for SNAP and other assistance and services. The web portal allows you to check the application status and complete unfinished application.
No matter which way you choose to apply, the application process includes a SNAP eligibility interview and information verification. After you have submitted your application, the DFD worker will contact you to set up an interview and verify the information on your application. If you are elderly or disabled individual and cannot come to the local Welfare Agency for an interview, call them to request your SNAP eligibility interview conducted over the phone.
Before a decision is made a DFD worker has to verify all the paperwork and interview you. During the interview, you will receive information about SNAP work requirements and your responsibilities if participating in the program.
Within 30 days of the interview, if eligible, you will receive a notice stating how much food assistance benefit and for how long your household is eligible for before a review of the case is due, along with reporting requirements.
The SNAP benefit amount depends on the household size and its net income – that is all countable income minus all allowable deductions.
If you are eligible for SNAP benefits, you will be entitled to receive food stamps from the date your signed application was received.
New Jersey SNAP Benefits Approval, Rules, Proofs Required
In addition to filing an application in the State of New Jersey, the process to determine your SNAP eligibility includes an interview and information verification.
The New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Family Development has a list of examples of documents and information that may be needed at the interview:
- Proof of Identity for Household Members included in the Application:
- Birth Certificate;
- Old Food Stamp ID;
- Work Photo ID;
- Driver License or;
- School Photo ID.
- Social Security Number for all Household Members included in the Application
- Proof of New Jersey Residency:
- Current rent receipt (with landlord’s name and phone number, your mailing address, and amount of rent)
- Current rental assistance (HUD) agreement
- Current mortgage statement and/or tax bill
- Current lease
- Immigration Status if you are not U.S. Citizen:
- Current I-94 or
- Current I-551 (green card).
- Bank or Credit Union Statement
- RV Vehicles such as a boat or motor home
- Savings Bonds
- Retirement Account Statements
- Trust Documents
- Earned Income:
- Pay stubs for the prior month, showing gross wages and deductions
- Last year’s tax records if you are self-employed
- Unearned Income:
- Copy of award letter for pension or VA
- Copy of interest statement from a bank savings account
- Letter from employer stating the amount of private disability
- Child Support – a copy of court order or letter from the absent parent
- Signed/dated letter from the provider of any money you receive on a regular basis
- Rent receipt
- Mortgage statement
- Property Taxes
- Home Owner’s Insurance (if not included in your mortgage)
- Gas/Electric bill
- Phone bill
- Water/Sewer bill
- Coal/Wood/Oil bills
- Medical Bills – for people over the age of 60 or people who are disabled
- Child Care – If you are paying for child care so you can work, go to job training or look for a job, you need a signed and dated letter from your child care provider with the following information:
- Name of the child care provider
- Hourly fee
- Number of hours per week they provide child care
- Child Support – If you are under a court order to pay child support and you are paying it, you need proof of the following:
- Who you pay
- Child(ren)’s name(s)
- Court order number
Additional information and proof may be required by your caseworker depending on your application and household situation. In case you are not able to provide all the information during the SNAP application interview, you may be given time to provide the required proof.
Applicants for SNAP benefits in New Jersey should get a response within 30 days from the date they submitted their application to the County Welfare Agency. When start getting food stamps benefits, households must report any changes of their situation in a set by the agency period of time in order to assure their participation in the New Jersey Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
SNAP regulations require all non‐exempt household members to comply with work requirements. Work requirements include registering for work, not voluntarily quitting a job, and accepting a suitable employment offer for all SNAP benefit recipients age 16 through 59 if they are not exempt. As per federal SNAP guidelines, individuals who fail to comply with SNAP work requirements without good cause are ineligible for program benefits and disqualified from SNAP for certain periods of time, depending on how many prior instances of non‐compliance there have been.
The law limits the SNAP benefits to 3 months in a 3-year period for all able-bodied adults between the ages of 18 through 49 without dependents, who are not working or participating in a work program for at least 20 hours each week.
As part of the SNAP federal grant assistance requirements, each State has to offer employment and training (E&T) program to its SNAP benefits recipients. Participants in such programs, where available, can get adult education, vocational training, job skills training for specific jobs, and work experience via short-term unpaid work assignments. The main goal of the Employment and Training Program is to help the SNAP benefits recipients get jobs, reduce or eliminate their dependency on the government benefits.
Call 1-800-687-9512 if you want to find more about New Jersey Employment and Training Program offered to SNAP recipients.
Approved! When and How Do I Get the SNAP Benefits?
New Jersey Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides the benefits via the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system. The monetary benefits of the New Jersey SNAP benefits are transferred to the accounts of qualified beneficiaries and are accessible through a New Jersey EBT card. The New Jersey SNAP Benefits are deposited into the recipients’ accounts each month following the Benefit Issuance Schedule.
Benefits are made available on the first day of every month.
If you have any question regarding your EBT Account or EBT Card call New Jersey EBT Customer Service: 800-997-3333
How and Where to Use the SNAP Benefits?
New Jersey SNAP benefits are provided via the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system. The monetary benefits of the New Jersey SNAP are transferred into the accounts of qualified beneficiaries and are accessible through New Jersey EBT Cards – Families First. Households and individuals can use their EBT cards and spend the benefits like cash at any New Jersey grocery stores and farmers’ markets that are authorized by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to accept SNAP (food stamp) benefits.
Find the New Jersey Food Stamps Stores near you. Check this list of New Jersey SNAP participating stores that are authorized to take EBT cards for purchasing of SNAP-eligible food items. Eligible food items are any food to be eaten at home by people, including baby food, non-alcoholic beverages, and seasonings. Seeds and plants to grow food for your own family’s consumption are also allowed to be purchased with food stamp benefits. You cannot buy non-grocery items with food stamp benefits, such as cleaning products, pet food, paper products, alcohol, or tobacco.
I Need Food Assistance Now. It is an Emergency!
Some households may get Expedited Services – that is getting Food Stamp Benefits within 7 calendar days if your household has less than $150 in monthly gross income and liquid resources (cash, checking or savings accounts) of $100 or less; or your rent/mortgage and utilities are more than your household’s combined monthly income and liquid resources, or a member of your household is a migrant or seasonal farmworker. In order to get expedite assistance, if you qualify for it, provide all the required information and proof as soon as possible. Call 1-800-687-9512 for more information on New Jersey Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
New Jersey Food Assistance Program
Find more about New Jersey Food Assistance Program
Search for Food Assistance by County and Town
Food Banks in New Jersey
New Jersey food banks play an important role in the overall New Jersey food assistance effort to end hunger and food insecurity throughout the State of New Jersey.
Their main objective is to collect food from various sources like wholesale organizations, grocery stores, and farms who have food in excess and are willing to donate.
Food banks then, sort, store, and distribute donated food to local soup kitchens, shelters, and food pantries.
The Food Bank Association of New Jersey is such a non-profit organization that works to alleviate hunger in New Jersey.
New Jersey Food Banks
Food Pantries in New Jersey
Food pantries offer food directly to people that need it and who have the means to cook it. They usually receive food from local food banks and in turn distribute it to low-income individuals and households at no cost.
Food pantries are typically located in facilities where received food can be stored and handled in a safe and sanitary manner.
Each food pantry serves a designated local area and most of them require prior registration and approval before food can be distributed to a particular individual or a family.
Soup Kitchens In New Jersey
Soup kitchens serve cooked meals on-site to needy people at no cost. Like food pantries, they normally receive their food from local food banks.
Soup kitchens take care mostly of homeless people and people who do not have the means to cook for themselves.
They require storage, cleaning, and cooking equipment as they have to do food preparation, serving, and cleaning after the meals.
Food pantries are typically located in facilities where received food can be stored and handled in a safe and sanitary manner.
WIC Program in New Jersey
New Jersey Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides healthy foods, breastfeeding support, nutrition education, health care referrals to New Jersey pregnant women, new mothers, infants, and young children during times of important growth.
School Meals in New Jersey
School meals in New Jersey are offered mainly through the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program.
The New Jersey school meals programs make nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free meals available to school children each school day in the year.
School meals nutritional standards are based on the recommendation from the Institute of Medicine and the U.S. Government and teachers have reported that students perform better in class if they get regular meals.
Children getting school breakfast also had significantly reduced absence and tardiness rates, according to a Tufts University study.
Special Milk Program in New Jersey
New Jersey Special Milk Program offers milk to children in schools, childcare institutions, and eligible camps. Any child in a school or institution that participates in the Special Milk Program can get milk.
Schools may elect to offer free milk to low-income children. In order to qualify for New Jersey Special Milk, the child must be a resident of the State of New Jersey.
Summer Food Program in New Jersey
Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is another New Jersey food assistance program that provides free meals and snacks to help low-income New Jersey children get nutritious meals in the summertime.
The Summer Food Service Program is a federal program that provides grants to local sponsors who want to combine a food service with a summer activity program.
The funding provided by SFSP ensures that New Jersey children in low-income areas continue to receive nutritious meals during long school vacations when they do not have access to school lunch or breakfast.
Senior Nutrition in New Jersey
New Jersey Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) provides low-income seniors with special checks to buy fresh, nutritious fruits, vegetables, and herbs from authorized farmers’ markets. To qualify for New Jersey senior nutrition special checks, the applicants must be 60 years of age or older and their gross household income must not exceed certain limits.
An application must be completed for each person in the household that wants to apply for the SFMNP benefits. Once approved, each beneficiary must reapply every year to continue participating in the New Jersey Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program. Learn more about how the senior nutrition program works.
Sources: State Agencies, FNS, USDA