Farm bill would raise work requirements for SNAP, could result in more Ohioans going hungry

Posted at 6:36 AM, Apr 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-30 08:33:59-04

The clock is ticking for the roughly 1.5 million Ohioans who rely on The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP to eat.

Lawmakers are expected to pass a version of the farm bill that would increase work requirements to be eligible for the program, which experts say would cause big problems in Ohio.

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Even when he's helping hand out much-needed food to people who need it, Alphonzo Robinson would much rather be somewhere else.

"I come here because I need to come to get the food stamps," said Robinson. "I'd rather be at a job, somewhere working, but I don't have a job right now."

The work he does at the May Dugan Center satisfies his current work requirements to make sure he can get his $192 of benefits a month through the program. Even then, he says it barely puts food on the table.

"That can't even feed me a whole month," said Robinson. "That's gone the first two weeks."

"That means there'd be more hungry northeast Ohioans," said Greater Cleveland Food Bank President and C.E.O. Kristin Warzocha. 

The latest version of the bill would:

  • Expand the age group required to work from 18-49 to 18-59
  • Increase the number of hours they'd have to work from 20 hours to 25 hours a week
  • Reduce the time someone could be unemployed before work requirements kick in from three months to one

"It's hard to find a job," said Warzocha. "It takes more than 30 days and so it really kind of feels like kicking someone when they're down."

Warzocha says SNAP provides 12 meals for every one meal the Greater Cleveland Food Bank serves. She estimates they'd have to triple their output to make up for the changes if the new bill passes, meaning there's no way they'd be able to keep up.