The Food Assistance Program — formerly called food stamps and known nationally as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — helps eligible low-income Ohioans stretch their food budgets and buy healthy food. Food assistance benefits are distributed electronically through the Ohio Direction Card, which is similar to a debit card.

You may qualify for benefits if your household’s gross monthly income is at or under 130 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. These guidelines change yearly; you can find the current figures at aspe.hhs.gov/poverty-guidelines . Some households may qualify if they have incomes over the limit if someone in the household is elderly and disabled.

You may apply for food assistance online at Benefits.Ohio.gov , or by filling out the “Request for Cash, Food and Medical Assistance” (JFS 7200) form and submitting it to your county department of job and family services. If you are a resident of Pike County, you can call 1-844-640-6446 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday thru Friday and apply over the phone. You can also renew, make changes, check status for cash, food and medical assistance by calling this phone number.

In most counties, Ohioans who receive Snap benefits can take free classes that help them make healthier food choices, learn thrifty shopping tips and choose physically active lifestyles. Classes are available for adults and youth through a partnership between the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and Ohio State University (OSU) Extension. The program is called SNAP-Ed, for SNAP Education. For more information about this program, you can go to OSU Extension’s webpage, fcs.osu.edu/nutrition/snap-ed . From there, click on “Locate an Office.” This will give you the phone numbers and websites for the counties that offer SNAP-Ed programs near you.

Medical providers with Adena Health System partnered this summer with our local food market, Way Farms Waverly Market, to prescribe fresh fruit and vegetables to patients in Pike county who are facing barriers when it comes to eating healthy. The program, known as Fresh Food Rx, helps to eliminate the cost barriers of healthy eating and drives patients to fresh food options, while supporting local farmers.

Patients who qualify and are “prescribed” a Fresh Food Rx receive a $15 coupon to use at a participating local farmer’s market. These patients include those with chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease.

In addition, people who qualify for Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP) are encouraged to bring their Ohio Direction card to the participating market. SNAP recipients are eligible to use $10 in EBT benefits and they can also receive an additional $10 in Fruit and Veggie Perks.

Next year, a new program will be introduced called Produce Perks which will work similar to the partnership with Adena for the Fresh Food Rx. Information will be coming on this program in the next farmers market season.

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