Guest columnist Kristin Warzocha, president and CEO of the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, discusses the urgent need for a response to increased demand for help with food from seniors. "The Ohio senior population is expected to increase significantly in the coming years. Many will be low-income seniors in need of food assistance: More than half of Cleveland’s seniors live on incomes of less than $25,000 a year."
"By scaling back one of the nation's most effective poverty-reduction programs, the rule would exacerbate hardship and reduce economic activity in areas that are already economically disadvantaged compared to the rest of the country," said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks.
"Federal officials say fallout from the government shutdown will not impact the food security of families already living on the edge. However... there are still thousands of federal employees who are furloughed or working without pay, which could make it difficult for them to put food on the table."
In a move that could kick thousands of Ohioans off of food stamps, the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Thursday proposed more stringent work requirements for letting able bodied adults without dependents get SNAP benefits. Ohio Association of Foodbanks executive director Lisa Hamler-Fugitt said almost every state, including Ohio, has waived work requirements at some point in areas of high unemployment.
President Donald Trump's executive order adding work requirements for able-bodied food stamp recipients drew criticism from many in Ohio. "Taking essential benefits like food assistance away [will[ merely increase hunger," said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director for the Ohio Association of Foodbanks.