Work Requirement For Food Stamps Draws Ire Of Two Lawmakers
Starting at the beginning of next year, more than 134,000 Ohioans will lose their food stamps unless they meet certain work or training requirements. This affects childless adults ages 18 to 50 who are not disabled. Democrats in the Ohio House and Senate demand a waiver for these requirements urging that there are too many people in the state who donât have enough food to eat. The requirements call on Ohioans to either work or participate in job training 20 hours a week. This has been the norm since the mid-90âs but a waiver was created to help those hardest hit by unemployment and the recession. Gov. John Kasich has decided to allow that waiver to expire without renewal â except in 16 counties. The administration says these counties, mostly Appalachian, are areas that are struggling the most. Democratic Senator Charleta Tavares of Columbus says thatâs not fair to the rest of the state and those who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP. âTo say that 16 countiesâ residents have the opportunity to continue to receive SNAP benefits and 72 countiesâyour largest countiesâ residents cannotâhow can we say we are being fair and just and right and equitable for all of Ohioâs citizens,â? says Tavares. Ben Johnson is spokesperson for Ohioâs job and family services department. He says every state had a decision to make about whether or not work requirements should be reinstated. âThere were some states that turned the waiver off statewideâthere were some states that left the waiver in place statewideâand we wanted to be a little more strategic than that," says Johnson. "We wanted to be cognizant of the fact that there are some parts of the state where unemployment is still high but we also wanted to begin providing job training and work activities in parts of the state where the economy is recovering just as we did before the recession.â? Johnson adds that the state is not saving money by this move. In fact, the state is spending $8.9 million to help counties transition back to these work requirements to help get Ohioans back on track. Lisa Hamler-Fugitt with the Ohio Association of Foodbanks says she has no problems with work requirements but there comes a time when you have to ask if the recipientsâ employment is sustainable or just for the assistance. âPeople want to workâletâs be really clear about thatâbut there are three jobseekers for every one job opening. And I know this populationâwe have worked this population since welfare reformâthey are placed in foodbanks, food pantries, and soup kitchensâworking on their benefits. Okay. Working for their benefits. Not on a path to paid employment,â? says Hamler-Fugitt. Johnson says there are many options available to those in danger of losing their food assistance. According to Johnson, even if someone canât find a job there are still a variety of job training programs out there depending on the county. But Senator Tavares and Democratic Representative Dan Ramos plan to introduce similar legislation that seeks a waiver of work requirements for all 88 counties in Ohio. Andy Chow at the Ohio Public Radio Statehouse News Bureau.