After cutbacks over the past few years, the federal government has quadrupled the number of navigators to help people find health insurance for 2022.
Zach Reat is the director of health initiatives with the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, which is coordinating the "Get Covered Ohio" campaign. He said there are more than 50 trained, certified and licensed navigators in Ohio who can simplify the process.
"We can help people enter in all of their information to qualify for tax credits and subsidies," said Reat, "understand the different health insurance plans that are available, and then make sure they are selecting the plan that is best for them and fits into their budget."
We are here to fill gaps, prevent hunger and boost access to healthy eating options, but we can’t eliminate food insecurity on our own. We urge support for the permanent social safety net investments included in the Build Back Better Act. Congress must embrace what we have all learned, and what the data clearly tells us — more resources in the hands of families means less hardship and more hope.
Joree Novotny, director of external affairs for the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, said if there's been a silver lining in the pandemic, it's been many of the investments in family economic stability, like the expansion of the Child Tax Credit. According to census data, the first child tax credit payments released last month were linked to a 24% reduction in food insufficiency for households with kids. "I think that we've been able to see from the responses that Congress and the administration have taken," said Novotny, "what we can do long-term to gain back some traction that we've lost in equity and racial and social justice for average families in Ohio and across the country."
"For too long, our tax system has contributed to poverty, inequality and basic needs hardship by balancing budgets on the backs of working families. Before the pandemic, about 4 in 10 Americans weren’t prepared for even a $400 emergency. We cannot afford to return to the status quo. The recovery plan proposed by President Joe Biden and being weighed by members of Congress is an extraordinary opportunity to invest in an equitable economy."
As budget negotiations at the Ohio Statehouse continue, food security advocates are sounding the alarm over what they say is a threat to families that rely on SNAP benefits. The Ohio Association of Foodbanks says more than one and a half million Ohioans rely on SNAP benefits to help them get nutritious food every week, and new restrictions proposed in the Ohio budget could limit who gets food and how often.