In March 2023 the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) emergency allotments were cut, impacting the Ohio households that depended on those funds to feed themselves and their families. Much ink has been rightfully spilled on this impending issue of hunger and food insecurity in Ohio. Data gathered by Community Solutions may add meaningful insights to the conversation.
All 673,000 households in Ohio saw their benefits cut this March.
Hunger and food insecurity is not a new concern in Ohio, and the recent cuts to SNAP only exacerbate the problem. Foodbanks are reporting increased food pantry usage. There are already reported fears about increased rates of meal skipping, and impacts on older Ohioans could be staggering. All 673,000 households in Ohio saw their benefits cut this March, with an average reduction of $172 per household a month. Let’s examine communities where these reductions in SNAP allotments will be felt most, using the recently compiled legislative fact sheets.
Food insecurity hits both urban and rural areas hard in Ohio
These maps detail the percentages of households in house and senate districts who receive SNAP benefits. Both rural areas such as House Districts 90-94 and 97 in the southern part of the state, as well as more urban areas, like Senate Districts 21 and 15, represent districts with greater percentages of their populations utilizing SNAP. Greater percentages of residents will likely be struggling now that the emergency allotments have been taken away. With the rising cost of living, this cut in resources will be felt deeply by many households seeing a reduction in their benefits.
As many as one in eight Ohioans cannot reliably afford food
While maps and state averages represent critical pieces of the data, it can also be particularly meaningful to simply ask people about their experiences with food insecurity. One of the benefits of doing research with a diverse array of partners who want to better understand the communities they work in is we get to hear from a magnitude of Ohioans about their lived experiences. This gives us access to both local, as well as geographically varied insights into the lives of our communities.
In the last three years, The Center for Community Solutions has asked just under 2,100 individuals across Northeast Ohio, in one way or another, if they’ve been able to afford enough food to feed themselves and their families. (We’ve actually asked even more people this question during this time period, but these results come from the projects for which we can share the data). From this sample, roughly twelve percent, or one in eight respondents, indicated that they were not able to always afford the food to feed themselves and/or their families. This mirrors research conducted by Feeding America on food insecurity in the state of Ohio.
Insight from other projects, such as when we surveyed older adults in Cuyahoga County, revealed that 14.6 percent of respondents indicated having needed to spend less on things like medication or food to afford their housing costs. Surveys conducted with individuals from Lorain County showed that 24.5 percent of respondents felt they or someone in their household may need the services of a food pantry in the coming year. Roughly 31.8 percent of respondents in a survey of Cuyahoga County residents stated that they had to choose between necessities. Each of these facts from across the region tell a larger story of our neighbors living through food insecurity. It is also important to remember that all these insights were collected during the emergency SNAP allotments, and it is likely that the situation has since gotten harder for a greater number of these individuals.
It is also important to remember that all these insights were collected during the emergency SNAP allotments, and it is likely that the situation has since gotten harder for a greater number of these individuals.
More resources on SNAP and food insecurity
If this is of interest to you, I can’t recommend enough reading visiting fellow Rachel Cahill’s piece published earlier this year detailing the full impact of these SNAP emergency allotment cuts, and the recently published work from Beth Kowalczyk (Chief Policy Officer for the Ohio Association of Area Agencies on Aging and Chief Operating Officer of Direction Home) and Hope Lane-Gavin (Director of Nutrition Policy and Programs at the Ohio Association of Foodbanks) regarding the upcoming budget and older adults. You can also check out Community Solutions’ webinar on helping Ohioans prepare for the end of the allotments.