May 30, 2014

Change in food stamp distribution causing problems for poor

A decision by the state to stagger the dates that food stamps are provided is causing hardships for recipients, according to Jack Frech, executive director of the Athens County Department of Job and Family Services.

Until April, Athens County provided food stamps — actually uploaded onto a card similar to a debit card — during the first five days of the month. Now the distribution is spread over a 20-day period.

County Commissioner Charlie Adkins raised the issue with Frech at Tuesday’s commissioners’ meeting, saying he’s heard from people for whom it’s caused problems.

Read more in The Athens Messenger.

May 14, 2014

In testimony, director says poor Ohioans are ignored, urges legislators to assure basic human needs are met

The state’s safety net programs have not been meeting poor Ohioans’ basic needs due to drastic changes in state and federal policies, explained Jack Frech, director of Athens County Job and Family Services. Repressive work policies and benefit reductions have resulted in a loss of more than $570 million a year from the poorest families and the poorest communities in the state, he wrote in testimony he presented Wednesday.

As a result of these policies, poor families have lost out on over $400 million in food assistance. Also, 100,000 recipients, including 60,000 children, have been cut off cash assistance since January 2011. 

May 9, 2014

Medicaid expands to serve more; enrollment clinic slated for May 20

Thanks to the Medicaid expansion that went into effect on January 1, more low-income people are now eligible for free medical services.

Now, those between the ages of 19 and 64 with an annual household income at or below 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Level may qualify. Anyone earning near this amount is encouraged to apply. Previously, Medicaid eligibility was limited to pregnant women, families with children, senior citizens and those with disabilities who met income guidelines.

Applying for benefits can be done online at Paper applications are also available from the Athens County Department of Job and Family Services. For more information, call ACJFS at (740) 797-2523 or the area’s Healthcare Navigator at (740) 593-0828. 

Need help applying for Medicaid? Sign up for our free Medicaid Enrollment Clinic on May 20 at The Work Station in The Plains.

May 8, 2014

Big-Box Stores Make Billions Off Food Stamps. Often It’s Their Own Workers Using Them.

Last night, as the clock struck midnight to end the month, some lines of computer code triggered a series of financial transactions that have a profound effect on the American economy. In that instant, hundreds of millions of dollars—taxpayer dollars—were automatically downloaded onto debit cards tucked into wallets and purses of people across America.

May 7, 2014

Low-wage jobs proliferate as middle class ones disappear

Lower-wage jobs have continued to proliferate since the Great Recession, as the economy creates fewer of the mid-wage jobs that have for generations been the backbone of the middle class, according to a new report.

The report released this week by the nonprofit National Employment Law Project, or NELP, said that lower-wage industries accounted for 22 percent of the jobs lost during the recession, but 44 percent of employment growth over the past four years. Median hourly pay in lower-wage industries ranged from $9.48 to $13.33, according to the report.

Read more from The Plain Dealer.

May 5, 2014

"We have a hunger problem in the state of Ohio"

Recent testimony from Ohio State Rep. Dan Ramos urging the House Health and Aging Committee to accept a federal work waiver for certain individuals who receive food assistance. Ramos is a Democrat from Lorain who currently serves as the Assistant Minority Whip.

Chairman Wachtmann, Vice Chairwoman Gonzales, Ranking Minority Member Antonio and members of the House Health and Aging Committee, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to bring before you H.B. 395 this morning.

H.B. 395 would require that Ohio file for the work requirement waiver to the Able Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWD) program under the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, for all counties deemed federally eligible. Before I begin, let me be clear, just like the individuals receiving assistance and just like all of you – I want Ohioans to work. They want to work. As our distinguished chairman so eloquently put it, work is good for the soul and it is good for the pocketbook. Every able bodied Ohioan should be able to find gainful employment in the State of Ohio.