A story that cannot be told enough in Allen County right now is the success it is having in moving people off the food stamp rolls and into the work force.
Roughly 1,000 Allen County households have been removed from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in the last three years, thanks to the combined efforts of the private sector and government agencies.
Around 1,600 jobs were listed on the Ohio Means Jobs website this month in Lima for low-income SNAP eligible individuals. The Allen County Department of Job and Family Services has tapped into the uptick in employee demand, moving individuals into working positions, which in turn, can bring them out of SNAP eligibility.
“Once you’re on (the eligibility list), we try to find a position through Ohio Means Jobs, and local businesses have been great at providing opportunities for them to segue into those positions,” said Joe Patton, who brings a unique background to his job as director of the local Job and Family Services agency. Prior to heading up the agency, Patton led the Ohio Means Jobs efforts in the region.
Three years ago the number of households eligible for SNAP peaked at 7,800 households. As of December 2017, 6,000 households in Allen County qualify for SNAP.
The high number of jobs available also means those categorized as Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependants (ABAWDs) don’t have the option to waive the work requirement of SNAP in order to receive benefits.
That’s caught the eye of Columbus-based think-tank Greater Ohio Policy Center, which has been digging through Allen County statistics and creating potential policy recommendations for the Ohio legislature.
The end result of a low unemployment rate, economic growth and less reliance on tax-assisted programs like SNAP is a success story worth analyzing.