“We haven’t used food ‘stamps’ in New Jersey for more than a decade,” said DHS Commissioner Jennifer Velez. “New Jersey has been using an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card statewide since the year 2000, so the name was outdated and presented some stigma concerns for participating individuals and families.”
The federal Department of Agriculture, which oversees the program, changed the name from the Food Stamps Program to SNAP three years ago, but gave states the option to keep the Food Stamp name, change it to SNAP, or to make up their own name. New Jersey has joined twenty-five other states that have chosen to use the SNAP acronym.
“We didn’t want any confusion for our program recipients,” said Jeanette Page Hawkins, Director of DHS’ Division of Family Development, which administers NJ SNAP through the counties. “It made sense to adopt the federal name, which enables us to mirror their messaging and outreach.”
Effective immediately, the state will begin using NJ SNAP, but during a short transition period will refer to the program as “NJ SNAP, formerly the Food Stamp program.” DHS will be distributing to the counties and other stakeholders the program’s new brochure and poster. The online application and general information about the program will be available at www.NJSNAP.org or www.njOneApp.org. There will be no paid advertising campaign; the outreach will be done through government and community-based agencies.
Over the last two years there has been significant growth in the NJ SNAP caseload. In calendar year 2009, program participation increased by 23 percent; and in calendar year 2010, it increased the same - climbing to 351,193 households by December 2010.
With record numbers of applications, the state has initiated a number of efforts to improve customer service and to simplify the program to benefit applicants while reducing the workload on county SNAP staff. In addition, there is an outreach effort underway that focuses on seniors living on fixed incomes in need of food and nutrition support.