State Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) this week urged Governor John Kasich to reconsider his decision not to include the city of Youngstown in his request for a time limit waiver for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
In a letter addressed to the governor, Lepore-Hagan wrote, “I am extremely dismayed that Youngstown – which has the highest rate of childhood poverty in the state – was excluded from your request of a time limit waiver for SNAP.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which oversees SNAP, allows states to request waivers for cities and counties whose unemployment rate was at or above 120 percent of the federal rate between January 2013 and December 2014. Under these criteria, Youngstown would be eligible to receive the extended SNAP aid.
“As our state continues to recover from the economic turmoil of the Great Recession, working families in the Mahoning Valley deserve to have every resource available in order to keep from going hungry,” said Lepore-Hagan in her letter.
USDA rules also would have allowed the governor to request a statewide extension. However, in lieu of a statewide request, the Kasich administration requested – and received – a waiver for just 18 counties: Adams, Ashtabula, Brown, Clinton, Coshocton, Gallia, Highland, Huron, Jackson, Jefferson, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Noble, Ottawa, Perry, Pike and Scioto. Up to 34 counties would qualify for a waiver, using a regional approach to unemployment calculations; 12 cities would also qualify.
Full text of Lepore-Hagan’s letter included below:
October 5, 2015
Governor John Kasich
Riffe Center, 30th Floor
77 South High Street
Columbus, OH 43215
Dear Governor Kasich,
I write today to express my strong disappointment in your decision to not include the city of Youngstown in your request for a time limit waiver for Supplemental Nutrition Aid Program (SNAP). I am extremely dismayed that Youngstown - which has the highest rate of childhood poverty in the state – was excluded from critical nutritional resources that would greatly benefit struggling families in the Mahoning Valley.
As I am sure you are aware, any county or city is eligible for the waiver if their unemployment rate is at or above 120% of the national unemployment rate between January of 2013 and December of 2014. Youngstown’s unemployment rate of 9.8% remains well above the 6.8% national average, and therefore would qualify for the extended time limit under a SNAP waiver. In fact, up to 34 Ohio counties and 11 additional cities would also qualify, despite the fact that your administration only requested waivers for 18 counties (Adams, Ashtabula, Brown, Clinton, Coshocton, Gallia, Highland, Huron, Jackson, Jefferson, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Noble, Ottawa, Perry, Pike and Scioto) and no cities.
By requesting the waiver and taking maximum advantage of the resources and flexibility allowed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, many families and individuals in the Mahoning Valley would be provided with crucial nutritional aid. As our state continues to recover from the economic turmoil of the Great Recession, working families in the Mahoning Valley deserve to have every resource available in order to keep from going hungry.
I urge you to reconsider the exclusion of Youngstown from the state SNAP waiver requests.
I look forward to your prompt reply.
Representative Michele Lepore-Hagan
House District 58