Federal SNAP Changes Could Leave More Than 100,000 Ohioans Hungry

Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Food Banks (right), checks out the produce while she talks with employees at the Mid-Ohio Food Bank in Grove City, just south of Columbus.
Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Food Banks (right), checks out the produce while she talks with employees at the Mid-Ohio Food Bank in Grove City, just south of Columbus. [Karen Kasler / Statehouse News Bureau]
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Advocates say 3 million Americans in 40 states could lose their SNAP or food stamp benefits because of a federal rule change in how eligibility is determined at the state level.

The rule change would eliminate "broadbased categorical eligibility" — the ability of states to automatically enroll people who receive other benefits into Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), too. 

Lisa Hamler Fugitt with the Ohio Association of Food Banks said as few as 37,000 Ohioans could lose their SNAP benefits, but more than 100,000 Ohioans could be affected.

“About one in 13 Ohioans could be subject. We’re talking about low-income working-poor families, seniors, persons with disabilities, as well as veterans could be at risk of losing their SNAP benefits," Hamler-Fugitt said.

Half a million kids nationwide could lose free school lunch under the rule change as well, Hamler-Fugitt says. Around 700,000 of Ohio's 1.8 million public school students are eligible for free or reduced price school lunches.

Advocates say broadbased categorical eligibility was used extensively during the Great Recession, and helped people who were temporarily jobless get benefits without having to liquidate their assets to qualify for assistance.

The Trump administration says the change would close loopholes that are allowing people who don’t qualify to receive SNAP benefits to get them. A bill proposed by Rep. Scott Wiggam (R-Wooster) would do that on the state level.  

But Hamler-Fugitt said this isn't a loophole, it was part of the federal Farm Bill in 2014 and 2018, and that the Trump administration's proposed change "circumvents the will of Congress".

The comment period on the rule change continues until Sept. 23.

Copyright 2019 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

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