A demonstrative project to professionally assist Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients would be extended beyond its initial approval period with legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Annette Quijano, Jamel Holley and Yvonne Lopez.

The bill passed the full Assembly Thursday, 75-0-0. It previously passed the Senate on March 25, 39-0.

SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, helps certain qualifying low-income individuals and families purchase food they would otherwise have difficulty obtaining. The goal of the associated Employment and Training (E&T) program is to help improve the economic self-sufficiency of SNAP recipients by providing them with the skills, training and experience needed to get a job.

The federal government provides funding to states that choose to operate this program, so New Jersey initiated its own four-year trial program in 2014 called the SNAP Employment and Training Provider Demonstration Project by partnering with two organizations to work toward those goals.

With the program coming to an end, the bill (A-3647) was introduced to extend the program beyond the original timeframe, rename the program to indicate that it’s no longer a demonstration project, and expand it by having the Department of Labor and Workforce Development consider the inclusion of additional participants each year.

“This initial program helped many New Jersey residents gain useful skills essential to obtaining employment,” said Quijano (D-Union). “We have a program that works, which is why it’s so important to involve more partners and continue carrying out its goals.”

“We owe it to our residents to give them every opportunity to succeed,” said Lopez (D-Middlesex). “The participants in this program benefit from the training provided, as it helps them find and maintain steady employment.”

“SNAP recipients want to work and be financially independent, which is why we must provide them with the tools they need to do just that,” said Holley (D-Union). “This program offers invaluable lessons that are relevant to the professional world and will ultimately last participants a lifetime.”

The bill will now head to the governor for further consideration.

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