Food banks are overwhelmed, while thousands of dollars sit unused in people’s food stamp accounts, because New Jersey is one of only two states where online retail grocery sites will not accept the electronic benefits transmission (EBT) debit card that food stamp recipients use in store for payment.
It is shameful that during this pandemic, a state so densely populated as New Jersey would allow its most vulnerable and financially challenged people to be denied online access to food.
Not all people who get food stamp help from the federal government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) have someone who will buy food for them on their charge cards, creating a debt to be repaid in cash.
And what about the inner-city poor who don’t have transportation to a supermarket and must take along small children if they shop in a store where EBT cards are honored? How many week’s worth of groceries can a mother and small children carry home? And how were they protected from COVID-19?
People who depend on food stamps are the elderly blind and disabled, the homeless, mothers raising children alone, and thousands who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19. And since schools are closed in New Jersey, families need more food, now costing more, to feed children at home.
People with power are not talking about this particular food emergency. In 2016, there were 858,572 New Jersey citizens on food stamps; at least a million today. It’s no wonder food banks and community kitchens can’t keep up.
Gov. Murphy, please, fix this immediately, so EBT cards must be honored online and delivery paid in cash.