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Policy: Entitlements

Food-stamp benefit cut on horizon for Ohioans

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Associated Press,Ohio,Entitlement Reform,Entitlements,Farm Bill

COLUMBUS, Ohio — About 1.8 million Ohioans who receive food stamps will see a reduction in benefits when a boost to the federal program following the nation's economic downturn expires in November.

A report released by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities shows that the scheduled cut would result in a $193 million reduction in assistance to Ohioans through September 2014. About 16 percent of the state's population receives food stamps.

For a family of three, that means $29 less per month, The Columbus Dispatch reported Wednesday.

In 2009, as part of the economic-stimulus law, federal food assistance increased maximum monthly benefits for food stamp recipients. That increase will expire at the end of October for the 47 million Americans who use food stamps.

Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, said the reduction will be devastating.

"Not only is it mean-spirited, but it is going to cost us so much in the long run on lost worker productivity, lost educational attainment, increasing health-care costs," said Hamler-Fugitt, who cautioned that the situation could further worsen.

The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a progressive advocacy group, has said the food-stamp program cost about $81 billion during the 2012 fiscal year.

According to a report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trusts, cuts to the nutrition-assistance program could increase the risk of developing various illnesses — including diabetes — for affected low-income Americans. Researchers found that up to 5.1 million people could lose food-assistance eligibility under some proposals being considered in Congress.

U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has proposed cutting the assistance by $40 billion over a decade.

Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, of Urbana, last month said his party wants to reform the system to "truly help people who are in need" and save money to taxpayers over time.

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