Trenton – The New Jersey Primary Care Association on Tuesday came out in support of Senator Raymond Lesniak’s initiative to prevent cuts to the state’s anti-hunger program that could result in as many as 177,000 families losing as much as $90 a month each in assistance.
The association of 20 federally qualified health centers, which care for approximately 500,000 patients a year, says that the $3.2 million in emergency state funds that Senator Lesniak’s budget resolution would provide are needed to prevent the severe reductions in the State Nutrition Assistance Program. An estimated one-third of the patients served by the centers are children, according to NJPCA.
“Health centers have a vested interest in ensuring that our children and families enjoy good health,” said Katherine Grant-Davis, the President and CEO of NJPCA. “It is imperative that the most vulnerable have access to key programs. Let’s join Senator Lesniak in support of his resolution which would help hundreds of thousands of needy New Jersey residents. The body can only be healthy when both social and health needs are addressed.”
The allocation of the $3.2 million from Senator Lesniak’s resolution would generate as much as $170 million in federal funds to continue to feed the hungry. The funds would be used to increase to $20 the benefit of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which would allow the recipients to continue to qualify for the extra SNAP benefits.
“I know how difficult our budget situation is today, but this is a priority,” said Senator Lesniak. “Hunger is the biggest crisis facing America today. In a $32 billion dollar budget, we can find $3.2 million to address the highest priority in America and bring $170 million in federal dollars back to New Jersey.”
Senator Lesniak said that most other states in the Northeast have already acted to provide the needed funding, including New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut.
“We may not even have to add one dollar to the budget,” said Senator Lesniak. “It’s possible that federal dollars already are available to draw down the $170 million to restore the food stamp cuts. The New Jersey Legislature will find a way to get this done. I urge the governor to make the same commitment.”
Senator Lesniak has already submitted the budget resolution.