Social Justice Athens County Food Aid Decreased for 2013 By The New Political Posted on November 19, 2012 5 min read 0 0 440 Athens County will experience a decrease of available food aid in 2013, according to a new report from Athens County Jobs and Family Services. The report examines the newly configured Sixth and 15th Congressional Districts. In the report, Athens county has 35 percent of its citizens listed as “Living in Poverty.” Twenty-two percent of the population are reliant on the county for food assistance: an estimated 13,888 citizens within the county, costing around $18,367,630 of net expenditures. The average assistance given to each home is around $284, with some households receiving more or less based on need-based parameters. The “food stamp” program, now known as Ohio’s Food Assistance, is a part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a federal government program. This program’s goal is to provide a household with 75 percent of the money needed for food for one month. The amount of money being given will be decreased by $50 because of lower heating costs in 2011, according to a statement released by ACJ&FS on Nov. 13. The statement details that not all the households in question rely on the same heating source. The SNAP utilizes the Standard Utility Allowance formula. The SUA calculates allowable payments for the impoverished families based on heating their homes with natural gas. The report, however, details that most low-income households do not use natural gas, only about 14 percent. That is 199 of 1,422 homes. Natural gas is not even the most popular heating source in Athens County. In the entire country, 42 percent use natural gas, while “40 percent use electricity, 10 percent use bulk fuel, 1.5 percent use fuel oil or kerosene and 6.6 percent use other heating sources.” Why the big concern? If the cut to SNAP goes through, over $3 million will be taken from Athens’ available resources. The resulting cut would affect more than the poor families that require assistance for food. The report from ACJ&FS mentions the effective stimulus from the government aid. The director of Athens County Jobs and Family Services finished the report with a comment directed toward the public. “This cut in Food Assistance will unfortunately cut the budgets of families who are already struggling to get by and who are facing higher utility bills this winter,” director Jack Frech said. “We will call upon the state of Ohio and the federal government to stop this unfair, punitive action against poor people.” The cut is being introduced because of 2011’s warmer winter. The SUA uses natural gas bills in its calculations of appropriating funds. Deviations from each household’s monthly benefit is approximately $50. From the 75 percent benefit given to households in the county, around 17 percent will be cut from the county’s individual payments. These cuts are based on inaccurate calculations found with the SUA for SNAP. The result is the loss of stimulus, smaller food budgets and harder pressed families in the county.