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NJ increases food aid by $95 a month for 231K households

April 13, 2021 GMT

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey will boost supplemental nutrition assistance benefits for 231,000 households, about half of those already getting the federally funded help, by $95 a month under a Biden administration rule, the state said Tuesday.

The change comes with about a $17 million price tag, according to the state Human Services Department. The program is financed by the federal government but run by the state.

The Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program, which had been called food stamps, serves more than 800,000 people in the state in about 423,000 households.

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“We remain committed to providing as much additional food security as possible to New Jersey families, and are pleased to provide this extra assistance,” acting Human Services Commissioner Sarah Adelman said in a statement.

A family of four getting benefits under additional changes made since the COVID-19 pandemic struck gets $782 a month. That will climb by $95 under the change announced Tuesday.

The families will get the added benefit because they were already at or close to getting the current maximum assistance, but the Biden administration said in statement on April 1 that the additional benefits weren’t being distributed equitably and moved to deliver more relief, according to as statement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Eligibility for the benefit is determined in part by income.

For example, a family of four in New Jersey can have an income no greater than $4,040 a month in order to qualify. The program sets eligibility at 185% of the federal poverty level, which stood at $26,500 for a family of four, according to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department.

The monthly supplement depends on federal approval each month as long as the federal and state governments have declared a public health emergency. The new federal policy also allows states to phase out the higher benefits for a month after the expiration of the state’s public health emergency, according to the state Human Services Department.

Democratic President Joe Biden’s administration announced the $95 supplemental for food aid on April 1. The Agriculture Department said it would cost $1 billion and help 25 million very low-income households.