OH Groups: Make Programs that Support Families Permanent
Monday, August 23, 2021
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio food security advocates welcomed news last week of the largest permanent increase to SNAP benefits coming this fall and they hope it's a sign of more funding opportunities for other programs.
Kelsey Bergfeld, director of Advocates for Ohio's Future, said she and other partner organizations are preparing for what they're calling the 'COVID cliff' on December 31 - the predicted end of the federal health emergency, when the benefits many Ohioans have been receiving for months will significantly drop.
She said these programs are the first line of support for many Ohio families.
"Certainly, we want to make sure that you can take care of your family first and these supports are just vital to allow that time for that job search," said Bergfeld, "for that training opportunity, for any kind of opportunity to find and establish self-sufficiency. We have to take care of the basics first."
The SNAP increase, an adjustment of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Thrifty Food Plan, will increase a recipient's benefits by an average of $36 per month. Ohio currently has just over 1.5 million enrolled SNAP recipients.
Joree Novotny, director of external affairs for the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, said if there's been a silver lining in the pandemic, it's been many of the investments in family economic stability, like the expansion of the Child Tax Credit.
According to census data, the first child tax credit payments released last month were linked to a 24% reduction in food insufficiency for households with kids.
"I think that we've been able to see from the responses that Congress and the administration have taken," said Novotny, "what we can do long-term to gain back some traction that we've lost in equity and racial and social justice for average families in Ohio and across the country."
This summer marks the 25th anniversary of the Personal Responsibility and Work Reconciliation Act, often known as "welfare reform."
Novotny said she'd like to see programs like the expanded Child Tax Credit made permanent, as well as Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer, which provided free or reduced meals to students this summer.
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