In 2008, the New Jersey Food Stamps Program became NJ SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). The program aims to help low income families afford a healthy diet and better nutrition on a tight budget. Many families have experienced trouble in the economy and unemployment has increased the need for food stamps in many individuals and their dependents. Eligibility is determined on a case by case basis, but there are certain general requirements that weed out the extremely ineligible. In New Jersey, food stamps are distributed through the Families First EBT Card, which is used like a debit card at grocery stores to purchase food products, such as dairy food, meats, and packaged goods. Some food is not approved for purchase with food stamps, mostly hot meals for immediate consumption, tobacco products and alcoholic beverages. The NJ SNAP website provides specific information in regards to the type of foods you can purchase and how your benefits are delivered each month, as well as more details about the program. The first step in getting aid is starting an application, which you can quickly do online. For some individuals, you can receive aid within 7 days of putting in an application, although you have to meet certain criteria.
Applying for Food Stamps
You can apply online through the NJ SNAP website. You may also want to download and print an application from the website to bring or fax into an office location nearest to you. These application forms are also available in various languages located here. You will need some basic information to finish the application, such as your name, birthdate, social security number and household size. You will also need to know the names and birth dates of those who live in your household. In addition, you also must report your income and assets, which include things like your car. You will also need to go through an interview which further determines your eligibility. At the interview, you must prove who you say you are with a birth certificate, old food stamp ID, work photo ID, driver's license or school photo ID. You must have a social security number for all household members. You must also prove where you live and if you are unable to work, disability or medical information. To see the list of items that you need, you can look at this checklist.
Receiving Food Stamps
While anyone can apply for food stamps, to receive benefits you must be eligible. Some individuals and families may not be eligible because their combined gross income or assets is too high, or they are not U.S. citizens. In general, if you reside in New Jersey and live at or below the federal poverty level for your state, you qualify to receive food stamp benefits. If you are concerned about whether or not you are eligible, you can use the Food Stamp Screening Tool. This tool is designed to ask you questions about your income and household so that you can better determine if you are eligible to receive food stamp aid. Once you are approved, you will receive an EBT card that can be used like a debit card at any food vendor that accepts food stamps. You receive your benefits electronically to the card every month. Your amount will be released to you once you are approved, and you can see your benefit statement each month in a letter from the New Jersey Department of Human Services.
Finding Food Service Locations
SNAP is the federal name for the food assistance programs. Every state has multiple SNAP locations. In fact, every county should have multiple locations where you can use your card. You can find specific locations near you using the SNAP retailer locator on the federal website. To talk to someone about finding a location nearest you or to request a form, you can find a local office or department to contact under the County Welfare Agencies Directory.