Holiday Food Struggles Could Hit Ohio’s Jobless Even Harder
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Without a change of heart by state government, some 135,000 low-income Ohioans could find it even more difficult to put food on the holiday table.
Current rules for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) require childless adults to work or participate in a job-training program, but given the economic climate, states can waive the work requirement.
The Kasich administration has only filed to receive the waiver in 16 select counties in the coming year.
State Rep. Dan Ramos of Lorain says with high unemployment, a large number of people will be unable to find work placements and will face food insecurity as a result.
"Hunger doesn't know a zip code,” he stresses. “It doesn't know a county line. “So I don't think we should be picking and choosing winners on issues of food security."
Since 2007, Ohio has accepted the full waiver and Ramos will soon be introducing legislation that would require the Director of Job and Family Services to request a waiver for SNAP recipients in all federally qualified counties across the state. There is no cost to the state to accept the full waiver.
From 2010 to 2012 more than one in six Ohio households faced food insecurity.
Ramos says the reality is that Ohio is moving in the wrong direction in ensuring all Ohioans have enough food available for their next meal.
"Ten years ago, 29 states were worse off than us in food insecurity,” he explains. “Now only nine states are. We are backsliding, and quite simply the people are the ones paying for it."
The governor's office says it did not accept the waiver because the state's unemployment has dropped since 2010.
But Ramos says the state's overall job growth continues to be among the worst in the country, falling below the national average to 7.5 percent.
"Although I don't doubt that certain counties are somewhat worse off than others, there is no part of this state where the economy is fully turned around, where there are enough jobs to go around," he maintains.
Currently there are only 9,000 slots available in the Work Experience Program, and given the growing trend of joblessness, Ramos says the waiver needs to be extended statewide.