UPDATE. The federal government partial shutdown has ended. This information is no longer current.
Cincinnati (Jan. 14, 2019) County residents who receive re-occurring food assistance benefits will see their food cards loaded with February benefits on Wednesday, Jan. 16, due to the government shutdown. The benefits, however, must last them until their normal March load date, which could be as much as two and a half months away.
Moira Weir, director of Hamilton County Job and Family Services, will meet with the Board of County Commissioners tomorrow to discuss the early issuance of food assistance, which has not been done before, to her knowledge.
She said it is important the county’s 100,000 food assistance recipients realize these should be treated as a normal February issuance and made to last until March. She said her office will do as much as possible to educate the public, including website and social media posts, press releases, media interviews, recordings on the agency phone lines, robo calls to clients, and sharing information with community partners.
“We know how important this benefit is to some Hamilton County families and we are extremely happy it is available,” she said. “But there is some worry that people will see the extra benefit and be confused, perhaps using it without realizing it needs to last until the normal March date when their food cards would be loaded.”
In addition to the re-occurring cases, those consumers who are applying for a new case or are re-applying and are in pending status, must get their verification information in and authorized by Jan. 30 to receive their February benefits.
Weir said the agency has not received any notice that Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (Ohio Works First), Medicaid or Child Care funding will be affected by the shutdown. She also noted that flexible Prevention, Retention and Contingency funding is available should the shutdown continue to the point people lose benefits and help with issues that arise.
“The flexible funding could be available in emergencies to those who qualify,” she said. “We realize how scary this time is for some members of our community and we want everyone to know we are going to help in any way possible.”