Ohio Food Assistance Change

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It will affect 4,000 households in Washington County. Those receiving food assistance will be getting less help in 2013.
It could be a loss of up to 50-dollars a month for families.

"Individuals that are receiving food stamps that are using the standard utility allowance, in Washington County we're projecting a 40 to 50 dollar decrease in the amount of stamps an individual receives," explains the Director of Washington County Job and Family Services, Tom Ballenge.

That could mean a $600 a year less per family in food assistance

It's around a 2.4-million dollar cut in assistance for Washington County and 3-million for Athens County.
Across Ohio it's a 520-million dollar food assistance cut.

The State of Ohio is making the cut statewide because of the overall decrease in the cost of heating a home last winter. "That allowance is based on an average of utilities for last year," continues Ballenge. "We're being told because of the mild winter we had last year and that the cost of natural gas has gone down that affects the individuals receiving the standard utility allowance."

The Washington County Job and Family services says that does not take into consideration the recipients that do not use natural gas or if other utility expenses have gone up.

Ballenge says right now, everyone needs to just budget for the reduction the best they can. "And those households are receiving just a little over about $200 a month, so if you see a 40 or 50 dollar decrease in the amount of stamps, that significant to a family that's trying to budget on that little amount of money."

"I think there will be an increase in the number of individuals that are going to the food pantries and I also see individuals that are being served by the food pantries now needing a little more help."

The decrease will start on January 1, 2013. The exact decrease for each county will be decided in the beginning on December.

The Ohio Department of J-F-S says they did ask federal officials to waive the change, but say the request was denied.

The food assistance program provides families with about 75 percent of the food they need each month.

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