Proposed farm bill could make thousands of Ohioans go hungry
Posted April 19, 2018 in Press Releases
In an effort to pay for lavish tax cuts for the wealthy under the Trump Tax law, the House Agriculture Committee passed Chairman Rep. Mike Conaway’s (R-Texas) Farm Bill, which threatens over 1.4 million Ohioans who rely on food assistance to get enough to eat.
Ohio is among states with the highest levels of food insecurity: 14.8 percent of households had at least one member cut back on food or change their eating patterns because they couldn’t afford food. A new report from Policy Matters Ohio shows how Conway’s proposal would increase hunger for children, low-wage workers or people who are elderly or have disabilities.
Conway’s plan would make recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) jump through even more hoops to afford food. Under current law, adults between 18 and 49 must meet work requirements to receive food assistance. The proposal would increase the age limit to 59 for those not raising children under six. A working-age adult who falls short of the work requirement for one month would be ineligible for SNAP benefits for 12 months, 36 months for subsequent violations. By 2026, the work requirement goes up to 25 hours a week.
“Ohioans need SNAP to get by largely because our most common jobs pay too little and offer erratic hours,” said report author and Policy Matters Researcher Victoria Jackson. “Policymakers should tackle that problem instead of making it harder for people to get healthy food.”
To qualify for SNAP a family must live at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty line, or $31,980 for a family of four. Ten percent of Ohio workers, 523,800 people, depend on SNAP. More than 43 percent of Ohio SNAP participants are in working families. Conway’s bill would require states to offer job placement and training, but allocates only $300 per work-program slot each year. High-quality job training, skill-building and similar programs typically cost $3,000 to $14,000 per slot.
Two-thirds of SNAP recipients are people we don’t expect to work – like children, the elderly or people with disabilities. For children especially, Jackson said food aid is not only a lifeline, but has many long-term benefits.
Conway's proposal would also end categorical eligibility, which streamlines the SNAP application process for recipients of other programs like free or reduced school lunch.
“SNAP kept 419,000 Ohioans out of poverty, including 187,000 children,” Jackson said. “Children whose families received SNAP have greater high school completion rates and lower medical costs. SNAP is more than an anti-poverty program, it’s an investment in our future.”