What additional funding has been provided? When will it be available?
The phase 2 package included $500 million for WIC and $500 million for the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which supports food banks. In addition, Ohio has already received $8.8 million for senior nutrition programs like Meals on Wheels.
The phase 3 package has passed the Senate and has been signed into law. It contains an additional $450 million for TEFAP, as well as $8.8 billion for Child Nutrition programs, and $15.81 billion to help cover increased enrollment and flexibilities for SNAP.
I haven’t been eligible for food assistance, but I just lost my job. How can I sign up?
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services has information on food assistance programs like SNAP and TEFAP here: http://jfs.ohio.gov/ofam/index.stm
If you qualify for SNAP or other assistance, your children are likely eligible for free or reduced-price meals at school. Schools are still providing these meals as either “grab and go” or delivery options. Contact your local school district for information.
Seniors can contact their local Area Agency on Aging for information on nutrition assistance and other programs, or locate one with this tool: https://eldercare.acl.gov/.
Are there any flexibilities regarding how and when Ohioans can pick up their food? Are there delivery options for assistance programs?
Unfortunately, SNAP benefits may not be used to purchase groceries online in Ohio. However, Congress and USDA have provided several flexibilities to allow Ohioans to continue receiving food or prepared meals without exposure to crowds:
- Schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program may transition to summer feeding programs in the event of COVID-19-related closure
- USDA has waived congregate feeding requirements for meal programs operated by schools, daycares, afterschool programs, and adult daycares. Anyone receiving free or reduced-price meals through one of these sites should be able to continue receiving those meals. Some sites have set up home delivery; others may have “grab and go” options. Contact your site for more information.
- USDA has also waived requirements that parents and guardians be accompanied by an eligible child when picking up meals at schools, daycares, or afterschool programs.
- For senior nutrition programs, the Phase 3 coronavirus response package clarifies the definition of “homebound” to include individuals who are practicing social distancing to protect from COVID-19. This will allow more seniors to receive home-delivered meals through programs like meals on wheels.
Have SNAP benefits been increased?
There has been no national increase in SNAP benefits. However, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act allows USDA to approve state requests for temporary benefit increases, up to the maximum monthly allotment for household size. Ohio has not received such a waiver.
States may also request to implement “Pandemic SNAP,” which provides SNAP benefits to families with children who normally rely on free or reduced price meals at school, in the event of school closures. Ohio has not implemented this option.
Have SNAP work requirements been waived?
In most cases, yes. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act has temporarily suspended work requirements. The law also directs state agencies to disregard unemployed individuals’ prior months of SNAP enrollment, so that they can continue receiving benefits without reaching their time limit.
Have food banks been given any additional flexibility in how they serve clients?
No. While WIC and SNAP have both waived in-person requirements for eligibility certification, there has been no such waiver for TEFAP, the program that provides food to food banks. Ohioans must still speak with food bank staff about their household to show eligibility before receiving assistance.