If there's a drop in the federal aid that helps feed New Jersey's neediest residents, the state's soup kitchens and food pantries will not be able to handle the increased demand, according to the head of an advocacy group fighting hunger.

reaching for milk in the supermarket
Dino Flammia, Townsquare Media NJ

Responding to potential cuts to entitlement programs on the federal level, the New Jersey Anti-Hunger Coalition has launched a campaign to protect the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which the coalition refers to as the front line of defense against hunger in the Garden State and across the nation.

The #SnapFeedsNJ campaign aims to galvanize local and state leaders, advocates and residents "to protest budget proposals that could force deep cuts to social service aid."

"The budget plans that Congress is considering threaten to decimate the safety net that keeps our children, senior citizens, low-income workers and people with disabilities from going hungry," coalition director Adele LaTourette said in a news release.

According to the group's report released Wednesday, about 800,000 New Jersey residents depend on SNAP, also known as food stamps, to afford groceries. SNAP helps one in 11 New Jersey households, and two-fifths of those homes include children, the report states.

The Food Research & Action Center found that more than three-quarters of SNAP families in New Jersey had at least one working adult.

The coalition's report claims food stamps pump $1.2 billion into New Jersey's local economies each year.

"People who get their SNAP benefits spend their SNAP benefits; they don't save them," LaTourette told New Jersey 101.5, noting each SNAP dollar returns $1.70 to the local economy.

The average SNAP benefit is $238 per household, per month.

LaTourette said she works with food pantries, food banks and soup kitchens throughout the state, and it's clear they would not be able to handle a big jump in demand if cuts to SNAP were approved.

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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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