TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senators Raymond Lesniak and Joseph F. Vitale that would expand a job training program by attracting funds from private contributors which would be matched by the federal government was signed into law today.
“At a time when many New Jersey residents are struggling to find work and put food on the table, there is no excuse for New Jersey to leave federal money on the table when it can be used to move people back into the workforce,” said Senator Lesniak, D-Union. “Unfortunately it has taken the governor more than two months to sign this commonsense legislation, postponing aid to many struggling families and continuing a 27-month tradition of unemployment numbers higher than the national average. Now that it is law, we can move forward with implementing these projects that are smart and cost-effective ways of providing job skills for those in need.”
The law, S-2366, establishes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment and Training Demonstration Project and will have the state Department of Human Services partner with local agencies, non-profits and colleges and universities to provide food stamp recipients with job training funded by private foundations like the Nicholson Foundation with matching grants from the federal government.
“New Jersey’s unemployment rate is still nearly two percentage points above the national average with hundreds of thousands of people out of work in the Garden State,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex. “With these high unemployment numbers comes a larger need for social safety net assistance programs including SNAP, which provides access to healthy food for struggling families. The SNAP Employment and Training Demonstration Project will not only ensure continued access for struggling families to the services they need to survive in these tough economic times, but also will leverage community-based organizations’ and nonprofits’ expertise to provide residents with the skills needed to find employment.”
NJ SNAP, formerly Food Stamps, is a nutrition assistance program intended to help low-income individuals and families buy groceries needed to stay healthy. The program is available to individuals and families who fall at or below 185 percent of the poverty level. Most SNAP recipients must comply with specific work requirements including participation in employment and training.
The Senators note that due to the economic recession, the number of New Jersey SNAP recipients has nearly doubled to 825,000 children and adults since 2007.
The law will go into effect on the first day of the seventh month following the legislation being signed into law. The law was unanimously approved by the Senate in February.