Food stamp benefits for thousands of New Jersey residents will run out in a few months.

Serena Rice, who leads the Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey, said about 11,000 residents will lose their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, formerly known as food stamps, because the Christie administration didn't seek waivers for federal funding to continue that assistance in counties with high unemployment.

"This is just the wrong decision, not only for those who are already hungry and are really going to be struggling all the more just to get one meal a day if they don't have this kind of benefit," she said Wednesday during a Statehouse news conference in Trenton. "But it's also a cut for areas of our state that are struggling the most."

And the food stamps program is an effective economic stimulus, said Adele LaTourette, director of the New Jersey Anti-Hunger Coalition.

"Because if someone is literally living paycheck to paycheck, the first thing they're going to do is use that SNAP benefit to buy more food for their family," she said. "We need these dollars in our economy, but, more importantly, people who are hungry in this state need these benefits."

Diane Riley with the Community Food Bank of New Jersey said residents who no longer get that assistance will turn to food banks for help.

"We were never meant to make up for that program, and when we cut that program unnecessarily, we see a spike to food pantries because we're the only place where people can go then to get food," Riley said.

Democrats in the state Senate have introduced legislation that would require the state to apply for the waivers to provide SNAP payments averaging $160 a month.