WOODBRIDGE, N.J. -- Pathmark Stores here is rolling out its food stamp distribution program to a total of 42 stores beginning this month.
Eligible customers at Pathmark in 10 New Jersey counties can now purchase food stamps at participating stores, said Jim Teufel, assistant treasurer for the chain. Pathmark is considering expanding the program to additional counties eventually, he added.
"The state of New Jersey has recognized Electronic Benefits Transfer as the future for public assistance programs," Teufel said. "We view the distribution of food stamps as an evolutionary step in the process."
Pathmark is one of a handful of New Jersey chains, including Food Town, distributing food stamps from their stores, industry observers said.
To implement the program, the chain entered into partnership with area banks. Pathmark piloted the food stamp distribution program in May 1993 at stores in Middlesex County, Teufel said. "The results have been positive and customers enjoy the service. The counties have also endorsed the program. Recipients don't have to be tied to the restrictive hours that banks have."
Under the program, participants present an Authorization To Participate card, issued as part of the government food stamp program, and county identification at a Pathmark food stamp window. The customer then receives the amount of stamps specified on the card.
Previously, food stamp recipients would present their ATP cards at banks, check cashers and municipal offices. With Pathmark's new system, recipients can purchase their food stamps at the chain and redeem them for merchandise at the front end.