Food stamp assistance

COLUMBUS, OH -- The Sept. 14 wind storm that left more than 2 million Ohioans facing long-term power outages is more than an inconvenience to food stamp recipients.

According to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS), food purchased with food stamps can be replaced in certain circumstances, including if it spoils because of a power outage lasting longer than four hours.

To replace spoiled food purchased with food stamps, individuals must visit their county department of job and family services (CDJFS) and complete and submit a "Statement Requesting Replacement of Food Stamp Benefits" form. This form must be submitted within 10 days of the event that caused the food to spoil (in this case, Sept. 14) or, if the person was away from home, 10 days from when the food spoilage was discovered.

Individuals can request an amount equal to the amount of food lost, but not exceeding the food stamp allotment for the month in which the disaster occurred. Additionally, ODJFS informed the directors of the county department of job and family and services (CDJFS) that they can offer disaster assistance to low-income victims of the storm.

Through this program, each CDJFS can determine specific eligibility guidelines and the amount of funding that eligible individuals and families receive. Families may qualify for up to $1,500 in Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) disaster assistance. Certain elderly and disabled individuals may qualify for up to $750 in disaster assistance.

To be eligible for TANF disaster assistance money, families must include a minor child or pregnant woman and have evidence of economic need. Elderly or disabled individuals who are not eligible for TANF assistance may be eligible for disaster assistance if they are at least 55 years old and childless, if they receive certain disability benefits, or if they were adversely affected by the severe weather and can provide evidence of economic need. Only one payment may be made per dwelling.

The local CDJFS offices will be accepting disaster assistance applications.