End of SNAP pandemic boost has advocates for low-income Ohioans worried
People across the country who receive SNAP or food stamp benefits will see that allocation shrink after this month, as the boost the federal government provided during the pandemic comes to an end.
That has advocates for low-income Ohioans worried about a looming benefits cliff for some recipients.
In Ohio, 1.4 million people get SNAP benefits, averaging about $273 a month. They qualify with incomes below 130% of the federal poverty level, or just over $32,300 for a family of three.
“One of the groups I've been most concerned about because they face some of the largest reduction in SNAP benefits are older Ohioans, who can see their benefits drop pretty dramatically because of the change in federal rules and with food inflation prices at their highest level in many years," said John Corlett, President and Executive Director of the research group the Center for Community Solutions. "I think that's really concerning.”
Some 200,000 Ohioans also may no longer qualify for Medicaid when income reassessments begin after the federal pandemic health emergency ends in May, and those whose incomes have moved up beyond the threshold to qualify for Medicaid would be removed from the rolls.
That’s about 6% of the 3.4 million Ohioans receiving Medicaid.
But Corlett said he's pleased the budget proposed by Gov. Mike DeWine includes an expansion of Medicaid for children and pregnant women, up to 300% of the federal poverty level. That's $74,580 for a family of three.
"Going a little higher up on the income level so that people can sort of take that next job, that promotion, and not worry about losing their health care coverage, particularly for their children," Corlett said. "So I think that could have the effect of reducing the benefit cliff and also maybe moving more people into the workforce or taking on more responsibilities."
Food banks are flat-funded in this proposed budget at $24.55 million per year. The Ohio Association of Food Banks notes "food costs are up more by nearly 13%, food supply chain challenges and availability are continuing to create shortages and delays and demand on our systems and services to Ohioans are at an all time high."
The group notes 3.1 million Ohioans visited food banks or food pantries in the last three months of last year, an all time record high.