20,000 childless adults who are considered able-bodied and receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in 29 Ohio counties will soon be getting letters telling them their benefits are being cut off if they don’t find work quickly.
42 mostly urban and Appalachian counties with high unemployment rates have used waivers to exempt non-disabled people from having to work at least 20 hours a week to get SNAP, commonly known as food stamps.
But a new Trump administration rule going into effect in April raises the jobless rate threshold, taking away the waiver from all but 13 counties.
“The truth is, for the first time in Ohio history, more people are on public assistance and working than not working," said Joel Potts, executive director of the group that represents the directors of Ohio’s 88 county job and family services offices. "So I think those who can work are working. I think what we need to do is have a system that helps those who can't work to work.”
Advocates say many of those people are mentally ill or have substance abuse issues, have low education levels, and may not have reliable transportation or steady residences.
“There is a massive labor surplus in these areas, meaning there are more job seekers for jobs," said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, who heads up the Ohio Association of Foodbanks. "So we'll start to see hunger and food insecurity increase, demand on the emergency food assistance increase, and the pain and suffering is going to increase.”
The average SNAP benefit in Ohio is around $125 a month. The rule change is predicted to save nearly $5.5 billion over five years.
For more on this issue, check out the conversation with Potts and Hamler-Fugitt on "The State of Ohio" this week.