COLUMBUS, Ohio — A bill that would make it more difficult to obtain food assistance in Ohio faces an uncertain future.
More than 60 people have testified in opposition to Senate Bill 17, which would end procedures that streamline the application process for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Claire Gysegem, public relations manager for Hocking Athens Perry Community Action, said for example, SNAP recipients would be subject to extensive asset tests and required to report even small changes in their paycheck.
"It costs so much money to implement," Gysegem argued. "It takes so much administrative time. It's basically weaving an entire web of red tape that households have to navigate through just to get food."
The Ohio Legislative Service Commission found the system changes would cost more than $4.5 million dollars to implement. The measure would also create a photo ID requirement for SNAP cards, which would cost $15 million initially, and $930,000 each year to maintain.
Gysegem worries the changes to SNAP will shut out struggling Ohioans. She pointed out the pandemic exacerbated hunger, with food insecurity impacting nearly one in five Ohioans.
"We're in a hunger crisis right now," Gysegem asserted. "It's unprecedented. There were so many people just on the brink, and they find themselves not able to meet their basic needs."
Gysegem added it takes both public and charitable sectors working in tandem to combat hunger, and noted donations alone can't tackle hunger.
"For every one meal provided by a food bank, the SNAP program provides nine," Gysegem explained. "And so to take that away could spell disaster for food banks, who simply don't have the person power or the economic power."
Supporters of the bill said it establishes best practices and common-sense safeguards to deter welfare fraud, but recent research from the Center for Community Solutions found SNAP already maintains a high level of integrity, and has many processes in place to ensure participating households are eligible and receiving the appropriate benefit amounts.