A hell of a thank you note is going out to Ohio voters, now that the presidential election is over. The poorest families are being told their monthly food stamp aid is being cut.
What’s called the “standard utility allowance” — the amount deducted from a person’s income when the state determines his or her eligibility for the food stamp program — will decrease by $166 for 2013, translating to about $50 less per household in food assistance. State Job and Family Services officials tried to appeal the change to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the food stamp program, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, but the USDA denied the request.
Ohio families receiving food stamps could get an unwelcome surprise come January: $50 less every month in assistance.
For the 869,000 households enrolled in the program for the poorest Ohioans, that could amount to about $520 million annually out of the grocery budgets.
Because of the way the federal government calculates utility expenses for people receiving the benefit, a mild winter nationwide last year, and a lower price for natural gas, many families could experience a significant cut in aid, those familiar with the program say.
Recipients should get a letter from the state Department of Job and Family Services this month explaining the change, said Ben Johnson, a spokesman for the agency.
Meanwhile, food banks and others that distribute food assistance are bracing for increased demand.
“They are going to increase hunger among our most vulnerable — working families, seniors, children, and persons with disabilities,” said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks.
Ms. Hamler-Fugitt said her organization is particularly concerned that some seniors or persons with disabilities who have a low benefit amount could lose all their monthly assistance.
[Update] Two Ohio counties were specifically mentioned in the linked piece above, that would be hard hit over the foos stamp cuts: Athens County, Lucas County.
In the Ohio county by county results, it shows Athens went for Obama over Romney by 66 to 31 percent.
Lucas went to Obama over Romney by 64 to 34 percent.
I am sure Ohio families would have preferred a nice electronically signed thank you note to this.