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Food Stamps During the Great Recession

Updated on December 31, 2014

Do We Have Enough Food?

A timely and interesting Hub by billybuc about Food Stamps and other Public Assistance use and fraud overall led me to investigate the status of my own state in these matters more closely.

Continuing news reports in Ohio based on data from the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services had shown that since the early 1990s, 34% of the children and youth in Franklin County were either receiving or eligible for food stamps. We heard that from approximately 2008 - 2010, about 50% of Ohio families were receiving food stamps. That sounded too high. ODJFS published data, however, showing that from January 2004 through November 2012, the number of food stamp recipients in the state nearly doubled.

However, public assistance rolls decreased statewide by the end of January 2013 (see sections below). Numbers of jobs have been increasing as well.

Van Wert County

A markerVan Wert County -
Van Wert Municipal Airport (VNW), Van Wert, OH 45891, USA
get directions

Ohio Story

Ohio has 88 counties - the number of keys on a piano keyboard - but not all 88 counties experienced a doubling in food stamp (SNAP) enrollees in the nine years examined: January 2004 - November 2012.

By end of November 2012, Ohio had 1,900,000 enrollees into SNAP, which is a 96% over January 2004 -- Even though populations increased in some counties, they decreased in others; despite a net increase statewide, the increase in SNAP recipients was substantial.

At the same time, 7 counties experienced only a 0% to 50% in SNAP enrollments.

Many additional individuals and families accessed the food banks throughout the state, which ran out of food several times in 2009 and 2010.

Van Wert County was the county of highest increase (218%) and the only one to have an increase of over 200%, which means triple the number in early 2004.

A total of 36 counties had an increase in up to 51 - 100% more SNAP enrollments (including Franklin County with the state's capital of Columbus OH); 35 increased recipients in a range of 101 - 150%; and 9 counties, mostly on the Indiana border, increased recipients by 151 - 200% during the nine years examined.

Van Wert Personality

Clayton Hoover Round Barn, Harrison Township, built 1910.
Clayton Hoover Round Barn, Harrison Township, built 1910. | Source

Why Is Van Wert County Different?

At about 28,700 by Census2010, the largely rural Van Wert County lost nearly 1,000 in population between 2000 - 2010. Part of this is attributed to the closure of an automotive plant across the border in Indiana, at which many Van Wert County residents had worked.

The county is a tourist draw with sites on the National Register of Historic Places:

  • Brideick Lang House
  • Brumback Library
  • George H. Marsh Homestead
  • Round Barn on US 224
  • Van Wert Bandstand at the county museum
  • Van Wert County Courthouse
  • The county aso saw some action in the American Revolution.

Business and Jobs

The county government offers new business some heavy incentives, including possible free land, to move into industrial parks and business districts.

As of this writing, approximately 25,000 jobs are available in the county and across the border in Indiana, including a fair number of Registered Nurses, trucking Owner-Operators and Drivers, Dental Assistants and related positions, Doctors, Financial Products reated jobs, and IT and Manufacturing related Engineers. Food Service jobs number about 900. Many of the jobs require education beyond that possessed by the majority of adults in the county, according to as of 2011. Transportation to Indiana jobs might be an obstacle as well.

Farmer's Markets

Van Wert County has only one, opened twice weekly in season at 500 Fox Road in Van Wert, Ohio.

June Through October Dates
Tuesdays, 3 pm - 6 pm ; Saturdays, 10 am - 1 pm

Van Wert to Fort Wayne = 35 Miles

A markerVan Wert OH, County Seat -
Van Wert, OH 45891, USA
get directions

January 2013 Improvement

Public Assistance rolls in Ohio for cash benefits under Ohio Works First (OWF) decreased in January 2013.

SNAP rolls increased in the same month, but total number of coupon books or Direct Cards decreased as follows (source: ODJFS statistics unit):


  • Number of Recipients - 141,556 vs 142,270 in Dec. '12
  • Net Payments Total - $25.9 Million vs $26.1 Million
  • Average Payment per Person - $182.9/month vs $183.47/month

At the same time, the number of recipients decreased markedly in January 2013 from January 2012, but average payment increased by about $6.00 in a year's time. This was new information to me.


  • Number of Recipients - 242,980,19 vs 249,402,711 in Dec. '12 vs 252,713,612 in Jan. '12. That is a decrease of nearly 10,000,000 in a single year.
  • Total Value of Coupons Issued -- $132 vs $137 vs $138

Good news is that fewer recipients are receiving SNAP and also at a reduced outlay of $6.00/person compared to January 2012. This more than offsets the much smaller number of people receiving the $6.00 increase in cash mentioned above.

So far for 2013, it looks like the State and County assistance programs tied to a mandatory 30 hours of weekly work or school may be helping to reduce assistance rolls overall. We hopt the trend continues.

Traditional and Really Groovy Non-Traditional Help

We have a number of ways to obtain food besides the SNAP program in Ohio, including foodbanks; free meals provided around the state, with larger cities providing breakfast, lunch and dinner 5 or 6 days weekly - in some cities recipients can give back by volunteering; school breakfast and lunch programs; Summer Lunches at rec centers and churches, although Sequestering has made some cuts; an others.

Some Awesome Programs:

No Chefs Allowed dinner on first Tuesdays monthly at Woodlands Tavern - Free soup and bread from 6-8 PM (donations accepted for Mid-Ohio Food Bank), plus friendly people and music. Located at 1200 West 3rd Ave. in Columbus Ohio (Grandview inner suburb). No Chefs Allowed in a culinary website run by two sisters that present monthly challenges to prepare dishes with a specific ingredient. They have a load of fun! Visit

Plant a Row for the Hungry - The Garden Writer’s Association suggests Americans to plant an extra row of vegetables to donate to local food banks (call th eones in your locale). Food bank users are delighted to receive the fresh produce.

Get Beamed Up -- Star Base Columbus Annual Science Fiction Festival and Free Comic Book Day - First Saturday in May. Free admission, cash donations accepted for the food bank.

Food Hop - Part of the Women Who Wine on Wednesdays group. donates 10% of wine tasting ticket prices to the food bank. Participants visit a variety of places to taste wine - private homes, taverns, restaurants, and others.

Look for other programs under the Mid Ohio Food Bank Link below. At one time, community gardens were located in several places around Franklin County and inside Columbus Ohio boundaries and we need to have then reinstated or replaced. Gardening classes would also be a boon.

Rating: Food Assistance and Self Help In Ohio

4 stars for Ohio Here To Help

Groovy Food Places

show route and directions
A markerStar Base Columbus -
5441 Columbus-Wooster Road, Westerville, OH 43081, USA
get directions

B markerFirst Tuesdays, Woodland Tavern -
1200 West 3rd Avenue, Columbus, OH 43212, USA
get directions

Spnsored by No Chefs Allowed.

C markerGrandview Community Gardens -
Grandview Avenue & Douglas Street, Grandview Heights, OH 43212, USA
get directions

Look for community gardens in your city if you need a place to grow food.

D markerMid Ohio Food Bank -
3960 Brookham Drive, Grove City, OH 43123, USA
get directions


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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 4 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      That is good to hear, mylindaelliot! I've been to Louisiana three times and am ready to visit again; also hope that the rebuilding is nearly done post-Katrina.

    • mylindaelliott profile image

      mylindaelliott 4 years ago from Louisiana

      Those were interesting suggestions for food. We have some non-traditional places for people to get food here in Louisiana too.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 4 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      That is kind of you to grow extra vegetables! Someone will appreciate it a lot. Thanks for reading and if you have or see any new ideas about foud sources, fee free to share here.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      This article was an eye opener for me. I was unaware of some of the suggestions you mentioned, Patti, so will be exploring some of them especially the planting an extra row of veggies for donations.

      We should all keep a heads up on this topic as it does affect each of us.

      Angels are on the way today :) ps