PATERSON - A Passaic County soup kitchen says that it is getting ready for an onslaught of new clients after cuts are made to New Jersey’s food stamp program.
State lawmakers say that Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits will be cut to about 11,000 people in the state. However, advocates say that the number is actually more than 30,000. The people being cut from the program are classified as “able-bodied adults.”
Many who face the SNAP cuts are unemployed and say that they are vulnerable.
Paterson resident Janneris Canele goes to Eva’s Village, a shelter and soup kitchen in Paterson, regularly. She says she is predicting long lines at the shelter.
“They’re struggling enough to keep this community open, imagine the whole Paterson [population] in a line,” she says.
Canele she is unhappy about the cuts to the program.
“I was upset because like I said I don’t work. I go to school. I’m trying to help better myself,” she says. “If I go to school and I don’t work, how am i going to feed myself besides SNAP?”
Eva's kitchen serves hundreds of hot lunches every day. New Jersey lawmakers toured Eva’s Village Friday, and say they're concerned that the clients may not be getting all the federal dollars that they could be.
Hunger organizations wanted Gov. Chris Christie’s administration to apply for a waiver and keep the food stamps for state counties with the highest unemployment rates. But the administration said that New Jersey’s economy has improved too much to qualify for the waiver.
Senate President Steve Sweeney does not agree with this claim.
“We really want to bring attention to this issue because there’s people hurting in this state still,” he says. “They hurt even further when [the state] turns down assistance from the federal government.”
Local lawmakers say that they are hoping the state creates more jobs programs to help unemployed people in the place of food stamps.