Benefits Through June 30 for Family Receiving Reduced-Price School Meals

On May 11, 2020, New Jersey Dept. of Human Services (DHS) Commissioner Carole Johnson announced that the federal government has approved DHS’ food assistance plan.

The plan will provide each eligible student with $5.70 per student per day or $416.10 per student through June 30. This benefit is the value of free school breakfast and lunch benefits. This money will support nutrition during the time that schools have been closed during the pandemic. No application is necessary to receive this benefit. Human Services is working with schools to identify students who were receiving free or reduced school meals.

The plan will provide $248 million in special food assistance benefits to almost 600,000 New Jersey children.  This special food assistance benefit can help families struggling to pay for basic needs stretch their budgets a little further.  Being able to afford food for their family, might help families have a little bit more money to pay their rent or healthcare expenses.

This assistance is specifically for children who normally receive free or reduced-price school meals as part of the response to COVID-19 school closures. The funding is retroactive from mid-March through June 30. This funding will make a difference in the food budgets of families who rely on school nutrition programs and who may be experiencing financial instability due to the economic effects of the COVID-19 health pandemic.

Under the new plan approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, New Jersey’s special Pandemic-EBT benefits will be provided to recipients of the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and non-SNAP households. Households with children who normally receive free or reduced-price school meals will receive this benefit.

Eligible students already participating in SNAP will receive the Pandemic-EBT on their household’s existing Families First card. All other Pandemic-EBT eligible households will be mailed a P-EBT card. DHS expects these benefits to be issued no later than June.

NJ SNAP provides money directly to individuals and families who need help affording groceries. Funds are directly loaded onto an electronic benefits card each month. SNAP is accepted at most grocery stores and bodegas.

In addition to this Pandemic-EBT plan, DHS has:

  • Distributed an extra $106 million in additional benefits to SNAP recipients since the start of the emergency.
  • Ensured that everyone whose benefits were up for renewal in March and April or are due for renewal in May or June were extended for six months. This means nobody’s SNAP benefits will be ended during these extensions for not completing the renewal.
  • Made it easier to apply for SNAP during this emergency by waiving the normally required interview and the hard copy signature on applications. This reduces the need for face-to-face interactions.

Click here to learn more about SNAP in NJ.