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SNAP feeds Ohio

September 06, 2017

SNAP feeds Ohio

September 06, 2017

Introduction

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, is the nation’s largest and most effective anti-hunger program. The program keeps children, the elderly, working adults, and people with disabilities fed and healthy, while reducing poverty. Both the budget proposed by President Trump and the House Budget Committee resolution aim to slash SNAP in the short and long term.

SNAP feeds Ohio

A recent Policy Matters Ohio report[1] details how the Trump budget would harm Ohioans and the state budget. Both the Executive and House budget proposals call for harsher work requirements. Most households with a working age, able-bodied adult have at least one member who works while receiving SNAP. Able-bodied, childless adults are required to work a minimum of 20 hours per week to receive food assistance. Not only do SNAP participants work, they work at our nation’s largest companies. In Ohio, the employers with the most employees on SNAP are household names, including Target, Kroger and the Cleveland Clinic. SNAP helps put food on the table for the people who work at these companies and make below 130 percent of poverty, or $26,208 annually for a family of three. Any cuts to this critical part of our safety net will harm working Ohioans. Food assistance has been an important part of our safety net since the program began in 1964. Nutritious food is a necessity that the richest country on the planet should make sure all people can afford.

Who uses SNAP?

Ohio is ranked 40th in food insecurity, with 14.8 percent of households labeled food insecure. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says a household is food insecure when lack of money or other resources reduced the food intake or disrupted the eating patterns of one or more household members during the year. The national food insecurity rate is 13 percent,[2] so Ohioans would be especially harmed by federal cuts to SNAP. In Ohio, 714,319 households received SNAP in July 2017, down from 777,069 a year earlier.[3] Two-thirds of SNAP recipients in Ohio are children, elderly or adults with disabilities. In 2015, 42 percent of recipients were children (Figure 1).[4]

SNAP feeds Ohio

The program is means-tested, meaning only low-income families qualify. SNAP recipients live at or below 130 percent of the poverty line or $31,590 for a family of four.[5] Because eligibility is based on income, the program is very responsive to economic downturns.

Federal budget cuts to SNAP

The Trump budget released early this year called for deep cuts to SNAP totaling $193 billion over 10 years and would require states to pay a much higher share of program costs. At present, the federal government pays the full costs of food aid and also provides administrative funding to the states. The President’s proposed budget would shift 25 percent of total program cost to states. Initially, states would be responsible for 10 percent of costs in 2020 and then 25 percent by 2023.

This would be a heavy lift for Ohio’s already tight budget. This shift of fiscal responsibility would cost Ohio $599 million in 2023. Over 10 years, Trump’s plan will cost Ohio $4.2 billion.[6] These draconian cuts would reduce the already meager average of $1.40 per meal for SNAP recipients.[7] Several proposed changes would especially harm large families, elderly people and people living in areas with high unemployment.

The House Budget Committee’s budget resolution lays out the vision for the budget over the next 10 years and provides instructions for the reconciliation process needed to move policy through the Senate. It is nearly as draconian as the Trump budget. It would cut federal costs by $150 billion (or 20 percent) over 10 years, also by shifting costs to states.[8]

The House cuts would occur in two phases: immediate and long term. Initially, the House Budget resolution requires the Agriculture Committee to find $10 billion in cuts to SNAP from 2018 to 2027. The House does not provide much detail in the proposal released in July, but it is reasonable to assume their current proposal is similar to their failed proposal for the 2017 budget. Last year’s proposal would have shifted $125 billion to states over 10 years, essentially by changing the program from an eligibility-based program, grounded in need, to a block grant program, a particularly unsustainable program structure that fails to keep up with need. Based on projections from last year’s budget proposal, House Budget Committee’s SNAP block-grant cuts would cost Ohio $4 billion from 2021 to 2026.[9]

Work requirements

Despite the fact that most able-bodied, working-age adults on SNAP work, the Trump budget and language from the House Budget resolution call for increasingly punitive work requirements that will keep food off of people’s tables. Current federal SNAP law limits benefits to three months out of a 36-month period for childless, non-elderly, able-bodied adults who work less than 20 hours per week. A provision in current law allows states to waive these time limits to people in a city or area with high unemployment. Three kinds of communities can now have the time limits waived: those categorized as “labor surplus areas” by the U.S. Department of Labor, those with an unemployment rate 20 percent higher than the nation’s over a recent 24-month period, or those qualifying for extended unemployment benefits. The Trump budget would restrict waivers to areas with at least 10 percent unemployment at the time of application – a far, far higher standard than in place today. For example, while the 16 Ohio counties with the current time limit waiver have a history of high unemployment, none have a current unemployment rate of 10 percent.[10] They would lose their waivers under the Trump budget. Additionally, people in need of SNAP in eligible areas under the current provision have been excluded from receiving food assistance. The Kasich administration has applied the waiver in a way that preferences rural areas and excludes urban areas. Ohio only requested waivers for 16 rural counties from October 2016 to September 2017. Other areas with qualifying unemployment rates like Cleveland, Maple Heights, Warren, Youngstown, Zanesville and Lorain, were excluded.[11]

Ohioans with SNAP work. Congressional district data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows the number and percentage of SNAP households in 2015 in each Congressional district and the percentage of SNAP families with one or more members working in the past 12 months (see Table 1). Again, two-thirds of all people receiving SNAP in Ohio are people we do not expect to work: children, elderly people or disabled adults. For an able-bodied working age adult to receive SNAP they must be working at least 20 hours per week or be taking care of a dependent child or elderly or disabled adults.

For every Congressional district, at least 68 percent of families using SNAP had at least one member who was working.[12]

SNAP feeds Ohio

Policy Matters’ State of Working Ohio report finds of Ohio’s 13 most common occupations, eight have a median annual salary that would qualify a family a three for food assistance. The SNAP eligibility threshold is less than 130 percent of the federal poverty line or $26,208 for a family of three annually.[13] The eight occupations are food preparation and servicing; retail salespersons; cashiers; laborers & freight, stock, material movers, hand; waiters and waitresses; janitor and cleaners; stock clerks and order fillers; and nursing assistants. Table 2 provides an overview of the 13 most common occupations – those under 130 percent of poverty for a family of three are denoted with an asterisk. Workers in Ohio’s most common occupations need SNAP to help put food on the table.[14]

SNAP feeds Ohio

Cuts to SNAP will hurt low-wage workers, and more work requirements will harm people already struggling in weak local economies. The House resolution budget says, “work requirements are central to ensuring that public assistance helps individuals transition to independence. Pairing reformed work requirements with consistent enforcement would lead to more sustainable, self-sufficient outcomes for SNAP recipients.”[15] This rhetoric is used despite existing work requirements and no evidence to support these false claims. Nationally, 96 percent of SNAP participants who worked in the year before receiving SNAP worked the year after.[16] The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found work requirements for people with cash assistance are largely ineffective at reducing poverty or increasing long-term employment. Cash assistance recipients not subject to work requirement had the same or better employment outcomes than those required to work.[17] For the thousands of Ohioans working and receiving SNAP, harsher requirements will not move them to independence. Only higher wages and better hours can eliminate their need for food assistance.

Many people on SNAP work at large businesses

In Ohio, 10 percent of all workers, 523,800 people, are SNAP participants.[18]

SNAP is important for workers because it supplements low incomes and helps when hours are reduced or unemployment rises. The top five occupation categories for workers receiving SNAP are cashiers; home health aides; cooks; laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, (hand); and janitors and building cleaners (see Table 3).[19]

SNAP feeds Ohio

Many of those receiving SNAP in Ohio work for large corporations with thousands of employees. The top 50 employers for highest SNAP participation are well-known names. Table 4 below shows the top 50 employers in the state with the largest number of people in households receiving SNAP in May 2016.[20]

SNAP feeds Ohio

Walmart, the company with the largest number of employees in Ohio, unsurprisingly has the highest number of employees and family members receiving SNAP. Many everyday businesses are on the list. The employers listed in the top 50 rely heavily on cashiers and cooks, which are among the top five occupations with the highest total workers paid so little they must rely on SNAP to put dinner on the table. Two nonprofit healthcare providers - the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals - are ranked 24thand 27threspectively. The top 10 SNAP employers are Walmart, McDonalds, Kroger, Bob Evans, Wendy’s, Dollar General, Taco Bell, Speedway, Goodwill and Burger King. From 2012 to 2016, SNAP participation by employees at the top 10 companies has remained fairly constant.[21]

The majority of businesses in the top 10 are in the food industry; however, a range of industries have high numbers of employees who use SNAP. Of the top 50 SNAP employers, food service, retail, and staffing businesses are most represented (see Figure 2).

SNAP feeds Ohio

SNAP allows people to feed themselves and their families, even if they work in a range of industries that do not pay enough to provide adequate nutrition.

The House is proposing to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations by cutting essential programs that help struggling families meet basic needs. SNAP is one of those. Corporations on this list could see their federal taxes slashed, and their low-wage employees would have their food aid cut to pay for it.

SNAP Retailers

SNAP helps people and families, and it supports the local economy. Households using SNAP spend their monthly benefits quickly at local grocery stores, convenience stores, superstores, and farmers’ markets. In a weak economy, economists estimate that $1 of SNAP benefits spent in a local store expands the economy by $1.70. SNAP retailers, the businesses accepting SNAP benefits, are numerous and benefit from business from SNAP recipients.[22] In Ohio, 9,644 superstores, supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, farmers’ markets and others redeemed $2.4 billion in benefits in 2016.[23] Table 5 provides an overview of the number of SNAP retailers by congressional district.

SNAP feeds Ohio

Districts 11, 9, 3, and 6 have the highest number of SNAP retailers. Districts 11 (Cleveland), 9 (stretching from Toledo to Cleveland, along the lake), and 3 (Columbus) are urban, but even the more rural District 6 (Jefferson County and down the Ohio River), which includes Appalachian counties, has a high rate. These districts are in the top five highest poverty districts in Ohio in 2015: District 11 (26.4 percent), District 3 (23.2 percent), District 9 (20.7 percent), and District 6 (16.5 percent). The average poverty rate for the state of Ohio is 15.8 percent.[24]

SNAP retailers have a strong presence in all Ohio congressional districts. The 9,644 companies benefit from the business of SNAP participants. Severely reducing SNAP funding would cut how much money SNAP recipients could spend at these retailers.

Recommendations

SNAP is a critical program for helping working families put food on the table. Hundreds of thousands of Ohio workers participate in SNAP every year. Many of these people work at well-known, large organizations with thousands of employees across the state. The president’s budget and the proposed House budget resolution aim to slash funding for SNAP,which would cut benefits and increase poverty and hunger for thousands of Ohio workers. The federal government,by shifting program costs to the states and dismantling its structure, would be less able to respond to economic crisis and benefits will be eroded by inflation over time. As such, it would also hurt the state budget. Moreover, SNAP cuts would harm thousands of retailers who redeemed $2.4 billion in SNAP benefits in 2016.

Ohio has high poverty, low wages and fragile urban and rural economies. Our elected leaders must move quickly and decisively to protect the state from the devastating proposals in the president’s budget and the House budget resolution.

Our Representatives and Senators must take action to protect SNAP by ensuring:

  • Taxes are not cut for the wealthy and corporations at the expense of SNAP recipients
  • SNAP remains a federal program based on eligibility – not a block grant - and the cost of this essential safety net program does not shift to the states
  • Benefits are maintained for the elderly, people with disabilities, large families, children and people in high unemployment areas
  • Harsher work requirements are not mandated
  • SNAP benefits meet the USDA thrifty benefits plan guidelines, which already only provide a bare-bones diet
  • SNAP remains responsive to economic downturns through existing eligibility requirements.

Congress should not cut taxes for the wealthy and corporations and pay for it by slashing food assistance. SNAP is important for all congressional districts in Ohio. It is critical that Congress protects the nation’s most effective anti-hunger program.

Acknowledgements

This work was made possible in part by:

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

George Gund Foundation

Ford Foundation

Saint Luke’s Foundation


[1] Victoria Jackson, “Trump Budget Slashes Food Aid for Struggling Ohioans” (Policy Matters Ohio, June 1, 2017), https://www.policymattersohio.org/research-policy/pathways-out-of-poverty/basic-needs-unemployment-compensation/trump-budget-slashes-food-aid-for-struggling-ohioans.

[2] Alisha Coleman-Jensen et al., “Household Food Security in the United States in 2016” (United States Department of Agriculture, September 2017), https://www.ers.usda.gov/webdocs/publications/84973/err-237.pdf?v=42979.

[3]“Public Assistance Monthly Statistics Report.” Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, July 2016 and July 2017. http://jfs.ohio.gov/pams/PAM-2017-REPORTS/PAMS_July_2017.stm and http://jfs.ohio.gov/pams/Reports/PAMS2016-JULY.stm.

[4] “Characteristics of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Households: Fiscal Year 2015,” U.S. Department of

Agriculture https://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/ops/Characteristics2015.pdf

[5] “Chart Book: SNAP Helps Struggling Families Put Food on the Table,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, March 2017, http://www.cbpp.org/research/food-assistance/chart-book-snap-helps-struggling-families-put-food-on-the-table.

[6]Stacy Dean, “President’s Budget Would Shift Substantial Costs to States and Cut Food Assistance for Millions” (Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, May 23, 2017), http://www.cbpp.org/research/food-assistance/presidents-budget-would-shift-substantial-costs-to-states-and-cut-food.

[7] “Chart Book: SNAP Helps Struggling Families Put Food on the Table,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, March 2017, http://www.cbpp.org/research/food-assistance/chart-book-snap-helps-struggling-families-put-food-on-the-table.

[8] Dottie Rosenbaum, “House Budget Targets SNAP for Cuts” (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, July 20, 2017), https://www.cbpp.org/blog/house-budget-targets-snap-for-cuts.

[9] Dottie Rosenbaum and Brynne Keith-Jennings, “House 2017 Budget Plan Would Slash SNAP by More Than $150 Billion Over Ten Years” (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, March 21, 2016), https://www.cbpp.org/research/food-assistance/house-2017-budget-plan-would-slash-snap-by-more-than-150-billion-over-ten.

[10] “Ohio Unemployment Rates April 2017 (Not Seasonally Adjusted).” Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, http://ohiolmi.com/laus/ColorRateMap.pdf.

[11] E-mailed communication from Angela Terez of Ohio Department of Job and Family Services to Wendy Patton, Policy Matters Ohio on April 19, 2016. The 16 counties for which a waiver of time limits were requested for federal fiscal year 2017 (October 1, 2016 – September 30, 2017) included Adams, Clinton, Coshocton, Gallia, Highland, Huron, Jackson, Jefferson, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Noble, Ottawa, Perry, Pike and Scioto

[12] “SNAP Community Characteristics - Ohio,” United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service, https://www.fns.usda.gov/ops/snap-community-characteristics-ohio.

[13] “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Eligibility,” United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service, accessed September 1, 2017, https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/eligibility.

[14] Amy Hanauer, “State of Working Ohio 2017” (Policy Matters Ohio, September 1, 2017). https://www.policymattersohio.org/research-policy/fair-economy/work-wages/state-of-working-ohio-2017

[15] “Concurrent Resolution on the Budget — Fiscal Year 2018” (Committee on the Budget House of Representatives, July 21, 2017), https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CRPT-115hrpt240/pdf/CRPT-115hrpt240.pdf.

[16] “Chart Book: SNAP Helps Struggling Families Put Food on the Table,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, March 2017, http://www.cbpp.org/research/food-assistance/chart-book-snap-helps-struggling-families-put-food-on-the-table.

[17] LaDonna Pavetii, “Work Requirements Don’t Cut Poverty, Evidence Shows” (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, June 6, 2016), https://www.cbpp.org/research/poverty-and-inequality/work-requirements-dont-cut-poverty-evidence-shows.

[18] Brynne Keith-Jennings, “Interactive Map: SNAP Helps Low-Wage Workers in Every State,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, June 5, 2017, https://www.cbpp.org/blog/interactive-map-snap-helps-low-wage-workers-in-every-state.

[19] Brynne Keith-Jennings, “Interactive Map: SNAP Helps Low-Wage Workers in Every State,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, June 5, 2017, https://www.cbpp.org/blog/interactive-map-snap-helps-low-wage-workers-in-every-state.

[20] “Top 50 Employers of Public Assistance Recipients Statewide Summary” (Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, May 19, 2017). Public records request. The number is a count of employees and family members. The data does not differentiate between full-time and part-time employment. This report is based on the location of the recipient, not the employer. All households are located in Ohio; some employers may be located outside Ohio. (Employers include franchises).

[21] “Top 50 Employers of Public Assistance Recipients Statewide Summary” (Ohio Department of Job and Family Services). Public records request for data from 2012-2016. The number is a count of employees and family members. The data does not differentiate between full-time and part-time employment. This report is based on the location of the recipient, not the employer. All households are located in Ohio; some employers may be located outside Ohio. (Employers include franchises).

[22] Chart Book: SNAP Helps Struggling Families Put Food on the Table,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, March 2017, http://www.cbpp.org/research/food-assistance/chart-book-snap-helps-struggling-families-put-food-on-the-table.

[23] “SNAP Is an Important Public-Private Partnership,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, https://www.cbpp.org/snap-is-an-important-public-private-partnership#Ohio.

[24] “Legislative District Profiles,” Center for Community Solutions, http://www.communitysolutions.com/districts.

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2017Basic NeedsRevenue & BudgetWork & Wages

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