For the Hillside-based FoodBank, one of the largest of its type in the country, the cuts could have a drastic impact on the organization’s efforts to feed people in New Jersey. SNAP assists some 866,000 New Jerseyans, more than double the enrollment five years ago before the recession hit, according to the Food Research Action Center. That still means just 60 percent of residents eligible for SNAP receive assistance, FoodBank officials said.
Forty percent of SNAP recipients in New Jersey live in households with working income, according to Diane Riley, the FoodBank’s director of advocacy. Fifty percent of those said there were times when they were forced to choose between paying rent or buying food.
The average SNAP recipient stays on the program for 10 months, Riley said. Along with struggling families, a large number of fixed-income seniors rely on SNAP for their meals — though the average monthly assistance is less than $200, she said.
“It’s a safety net, and people forget that,” Riley said. “You need food pantries, and you need SNAP, and you need school lunch programs. When you cut one, you’re cutting the whole net.”