Food Assistance Change Coming

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If you receive food assistance from our agency — and one in six in the county do — you’ll need to know about an important change coming to the program.

Beginning Friday, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services is changing the time frame for dispersing benefits. Previously, all 140,000 Hamilton County residents received their food benefits, loaded to their Ohio Directional Card, within the first 10 days the month. Going forward, the benefits will be dispersed over a 20-day period.

To be clear, this only affects new recipients, people who had a break in eligibility or people who move. If you are a current recipient and do not move or have a break in your eligibility, you will continue receiving your benefits on your designated day. (The exact day is determined by the last digit in your case number and that will remain the protocol in the new system.)

But if you were to lose eligibility for even a short time, or move, you might have to wait longer than 30 days for your next round of assistance to load. For example, if you previously received your benefits on the first day of the month, when you re-enroll, you may find that you have now been assigned the 20th day of the month for your card to load. So you might go as long as 50 days — instead of the normal 30 — in between loads on your card.

This would only be a problem for the first month back. After that, you would be back on a regular schedule.

Why the change? Grocers for some time have said a longer window for dispersing benefits would help them be able to staff more evenly throughout the month and to be able to keep a more steady supply of quality food.

JFS has a Widespread Impact on the Local Economy

Below is my column from our recent Update newsletter. If you are not receiving our newsletter, please visit our website, hcjfs.org, and find the sign up form under the Public header. It is a good way to keep up on what is going on at JFS.

 

Hamilton County Job and Family Services has a $1.8 billion impact on the local economy.

That is what was going through my mind as I reviewed the number of Medicaid applications we have received under the recent expansion. If we receive as many as predicted – 42,000 – that will push us above the 200,000 recipient mark. That is a full one quarter of the county’s 800,000 residents.

But the numbers behind the numbers are the dollars attached to those recipients. Because they have health care insurance, they are able to spend money at local doctors’ offices, clinics and hospitals. Last year, $1.3 billion in Medicaid was spent at local medical facilities.

JFS also accounted for $232 million in food assistance spent at local grocers. Another nearly $100 million was spent at local child care centers and homes. Various other programs account for nearly $200 million in spending at local businesses.

This is something I try to keep in mind when going about the day-to-day business of running JFS. Our reach goes far beyond the 275,000 people involved in a child support case, or the 167,000 Medicaid recipients or the 145,000 food assistance recipients. Yes, we help 17,000 abused children a year, but that help extends beyond those children to doctors who heal their wounds, psychologists who help them become whole and social service providers who help meet their other needs.

It is hard to say exactly how many people we serve, because many of the recipients are duplicated across programs. My guess is we directly serve about 500,000 of the county’s 800,000 residents. But if you consider the dollars that reach beyond those half million, it is a good bet there are very few in this community who do not benefit from the work we do. 

 

Food Assistance Amounts Will Change in November

Just a friendly reminder that the 2009 Recovery Act’s temporary boost to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits ended today and Hamilton County food assistance recipients will see a reduction in their monthly allotment.

The amount of your reduction will vary depending on family size and such. For example, a family of four will lose about $36 a month. Please visit our website for more detail: http://www.hcjfs.hamilton-co.org/Demo/services/foodstamps/FSReduction.htm

Families were receiving the extra amount as part of a stimulus package the federal government put together in the face of a faltering economy.  Likewise, the decision was made at the federal level to stop the extra payments.

Thank you for your understanding and patience.

Change Coming to Food Assistance Program

I would like to get back to posting regularly and keeping everyone up on all that is happening here at Hamilton County Job and Family Services. Please accept my apologies for falling off over the past few months.

One of the biggest things happening in the next few months is a change in our food assistance program. You can read more about that here. We expect this to impact about 18,000 in Hamilton County – folks who receive food assistance, but have no children. They will now be under work requirements that had previously been waived because of the state’s high unemployment rates.

It is important to note these requirements were in place before the economic downturn, so this is not new to us. And, I believe, most who receive food assistance are already working or performing some type of duty to meet the work requirement.

Still, these changes will make it clear what is required and those who do not comply will leave the rolls in January. We have set up a system to help transition those who have not been working. If you fall into this category, please check with your caseworker or visit the SuperJobs Center for assistance.

A Thank You to This Agency’s Important Partners

For my most recent column in Update, our community e-newsletter, I expanded on my last blog post. My goal was to thank all of those who partner with us and ask nothing in return. I could not mention everyone, but I picked some of our most prominent partners, who really help us provide services that make this community a better place to live.

Also, check out some of the other stories in the newsletter, which comes out monthly. We would love to have you as a subscriber.

Thank you!

http://www.hcjfs.hamilton-co.org/UpdateNew2013/February/Cover.htm

Closed for MLK Day

Our offices will be closed Monday for Martin Luther King Day. We will open again on Tuesday. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday weekend.

Special Edition of Update Tells You How to do Business with Us

We produced a special edition of our Update community newsletter that details the best and fastest ways to do business with us. You can also read my column on our renewed commitment to customer service.

Here’s the link. While you are there, please sign up to regularly receive our newsletter via email.

http://www.hcjfs.hamilton-co.org/UpdateNew2013/January/Letter.htm