Letter: Legislators should support benefits for older Ohioans

In just one year, more than one in four Ohioans will be 60 and older. Of this group, 110,000 households receive less than $50 a month in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Plan benefits. I am writing to express my support for House Bill 428, which aims to leverage state funds to increase the minimum SNAP benefits for older adults to $50 per month.

During the pandemic, emergency monthly SNAP stipends were raised to $281. In spring 2023, approximately 70,000 households were reduced to the minimum benefit of $23 per month, which falls short in providing adequate nutritional support, especially amidst record food price inflation.

Approximately 28% of the people we serve through our network of partner agencies and community food distributions are seniors age 60 years or better, with 151 of them being over the age of 85. Many of these seniors are faced with making tough choices every day between paying for utilities, rent/mortgage, fuel, medicine or purchasing food. It’s a decision no one should have to make but especially our senior population who, for many, are unable to work.

Ohio lawmakers have an opportunity to make a significant and lasting impact on the health and well-being of older Ohioans with House Bill 428. Food is essential. A study from Maryland has even concluded that SNAP directly contributes to a reduced likelihood of nursing home and hospital admissions.

We are all aging, and we all deserve the right to grow, age and live independently and safely in our beloved state of Ohio.

Please call on your local legislators to support House Bill 428.

Tommie Harner


Harner is CEO of the West Ohio Food Bank.


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