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Basic Needs

Food Insecurity


The SHOP@TCNJ – Food Pantry

TCNJ’s on-campus food pantry is open to all students, faculty, staff and the community at large. The pantry contains non-perishable grocery items as well as limited toiletries. No questions asked, just stop on by while we’re open. Hours of operation may change by semester, please visit our website or Instagram page (@theshop_tcnj) for up-to-date operating hours.

The SHOP is located on the north side of Building 700 on Campus Town Drive, next to the fitness center. It is ADA accessible and has parking directly in front of the building.


Mercer Street Friends

The Mercer Street Friends Food Bank leads the community response to hunger in Mercer County. We are the primary source of government and privately donated food targeted for hunger relief programs in the county. The Food Bank is located at 824 Silvia Street, Ewing Township.

Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK)

TASK has a number of soup kitchens in the local area. Please visit their website for locations, hours and contact information.

Trenton Area Food Resources

This Mercer County Free Food Finder directory is maintained by the Trenton Health Team as part of their effort to improve health equity in our region. It lists meals sites, food pantries, and meal distribution sites serving children, families, seniors and adults.

The information in this directory is updated regularly, but all food resources, locations, and times are subject to change.
We recommend calling sites ahead of time to confirm before visiting. For additional information please visit our website.

Other Resources:

USDA National Hunger Hotline

Do you need food? Anyone in the United States can call for FREE 1-866-3-HUNGRY or 1-877-8-HAMBRE between 8 am and 8 pm Eastern Time to speak with an operator who speaks English or Spanish, and can help you access, SNAP, WIC, Summer Meals, Food Pantries, Soup Kitchens, Other emergency food programs.

NJ SNAP (Formerly food stamps) Hotline: 1-800-687-9512

NJ SNAP, formerly Food Stamps, is New Jersey’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that can help low-income families buy the groceries they need to eat healthy.

2018 #REALCOLLEGE Survey
View PDF


NJ Helps
This site will help to see if you are eligible for food assistance (SNAP), cash assistance (WFNJ/TANF or WFNJ/GA), and health Insurance (NJ FamilyCare/Medicaid). From there you can apply for services or learn about additional resources.
NJ Find A Ride is an online directory of public and accessible transportation options for those who do not own a car. The website offers a place to look at how to get from one location to another in a local community through a searchable database. The search results will match specific transportation needs that you describe and state who is eligible, how much it costs and how to arrange for a ride.

Modivcare provides non-emergency medical transportation to NJ Family Care/Medicaid clients living anywhere in the state. Though different counties have varied regulations Modivcare will provide some level of transportation to appointments. For more information about this resource or to make an appointment for a ride, call 1-866-527-9933.

NJ 211

2-1-1 responds immediately during times of crisis, to field calls regarding the crisis and to direct callers to services most appropriate for their needs.

Housing Insecurity


Mercer County Homeless Hotline – (609) 468-8296
Provides assistance for families and individuals in a homeless situation to be placed in a motel/hotel for one night per year. The program also provides services that link recipients with other emergency assistance programs for which they may be eligible. Please call the hotline for immediate assistance. If the call is not answered, please leave a message and the on-call staff member will return all messages. Calls placed during the day will be returned during business hours.

Coordinated Entry and Assessment Services (CEAS) Center (Trenton)
The Coordinated Entry and Assessment Services Center (CEAS Center) is an entry point for single, homeless adults in Mercer County to access comprehensive services.

Other Resources:

New Jersey Housing Resource Center (NJHRC)

The NJHRC is a FREE, online searchable registry of affordable and accessible housing units throughout the State of New Jersey. The NJHRC is updated daily to consolidate resources provided by the New Jersey Apartment Association, New Jersey Association of Realtors, and landlords, among others, to help individuals and families find available rental and for-sale units in their desired areas.
For assistance, call toll-free: 1-877-428-8844.


NJ SNAP (Formerly food stamps) Hotline: 1-800-687-9512

NJ SNAP, formerly Food Stamps, is New Jersey’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that provides people and families in need of temporary assistance access to healthy foods that meet their dietary needs. SNAP benefits are received every month via electronic debit (EBT) cards, which are used to purchase groceries at an authorized retailer.

Eligibility depends on several factors like income, household size, resources, etc. You can screen for NJ SNAP in 5-10 minutes to find out if you are eligible for food assistance, cash assistance, and more by visiting the NJHelps website. For SNAP purposes your household includes anyone who purchases and prepares food together. There does not have to be any family or legal relationship to be part of the same SNAP household. Roommates can be considered a SNAP household depending on how they buy and cook food. A person who is age 21 or younger who is living with their parent(s) must include the parent(s) in the SNAP household.

Students aged 18-49 and enrolled at least half-time in a college, university, community college, or business, technical, trade, or vocational school that requires a high school diploma may be eligible for SNAP.

You can apply online at or if you do not have a computer, you can apply by phone by calling your county board of social services.

Expect it to take about 20-45 minutes to complete an application. It will take longer to apply than to screen because you will need to provide more detailed income and personal information.

After you submit an application, your county Board of Social Services will contact you to schedule an interview. You must complete this interview. The interviewer will tell you what documents you must provide as proof of the information you stated during your application and interview. For example, proof of your identity, residency, income, and who lives in your house must be provided before your application can be approved.

If your application is approved, you will be issued a Families First Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, which will contain your benefits.

The United Way of Greater Mercer County can provide assistance in guiding you through the SNAP application process.

application assistance QR code

TCNJ Student Emergency Fund

Student Emergency Fund
The SEF assists TCNJ students by providing financial support when they need assistance with unexpected, emergency expenses surrounding situations such as accidents, illness, death of a family member, fire damage, co-pay coverage for medical or mental health services, or the need for temporary housing or food. This funding is not intended to replace or supplement existing financial aid and does not have to be repaid. The SEF will not cover a student’s tuition or fees. Students may apply when they have exhausted all other resources.

Utility Assistance

Utility Assistance Hotline
Many individuals and families in our state are facing very difficult financial hardships. NJ 2-1-1 offers hope and help at any time of the day or night. You are encouraged to dial “211”; 800.510.3102 or 866.240.1347, if you need help with utility costs.

Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP)
The Home Energy Assistance Program helps very low-income residents with their heating and cooling bills and makes provisions for emergency heating system services and emergency fuel assistance within the Home Energy Assistance Program.

Lifeline & Affordable Connectivity Program

The Lifeline program and the Affordable Connectivity Program help make phone and internet service more affordable for low-income individuals. Eligible individuals also qualify for a free smartphone through the Lifeline program. If you participate in certain assistance programs like Medicaid, NJ SNAP or SSI, you automatically qualify for both federal programs.

Payment Assistance for Gas and Electric (PAGE)
PAGE—which stands for Payment Assistance for Gas and Electric—is a state-funded utility assistance program that helps low to moderate-income families in New Jersey pay their utility bills.

Universal Service Fund (USF): 1-866-240-1347
USF helps make energy bills more affordable for low-income customers. USF eligibility is also income based for example; the monthly gross income limit for a family of four is $3,661. If you are eligible, USF can lower the amount you have to pay for your gas and electric bills. USF accepts applications all year. You may also be eligible for both LIHEAP and USF.

NJ Lifeline Credit Program 1-800-792-9745
The Lifeline Credit Program provides a $225 yearly credit on the electric or gas bill to customers ages 65 years or older. In addition, disabled adults over the age of 18 who receive a Social Security Disability benefit may also receive this credit. Income must not exceed $27,951 for a single person or $34,268 for a married couple. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients will automatically receive the Lifeline benefit with their monthly SSI check.

NJ SHARES 1-866-NJSHARES (657-4273)

NJ SHARES provides energy assistance to moderate and fixed-income households who do not qualify for other assistance programs. To qualify, you must show a history of paying your bills on time and that
something prevents you from paying now. If you receive LIHEAP and USF, you are not eligible for NJ SHARES benefits. NJ SHARES is available all year. Call NJ SHARES toll free at 1-(866) 657-4273.