YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - Able-bodied Ohioans without children are now required to work, or they face losing their food stamps.
For years, Ohio waived a mandate requiring able-bodied individuals without children to work, volunteer or attend job training at least 20 hours per week in order to receive their food stamps.
In late 2013, that waiver expired and has not been renewed for some Ohio counties, including Mahoning where there are about 4,500 individuals that could be affected.
"They come in to be assessed and then we refer them to some place where they can volunteer and continue receiving the benefits," said Gwendolyn Graves with Jobs and Family Services.
So far, the county agency has tried to meet with about 1,500 individuals, but the majority are not coming for their assessment. Therefore, they do not receive the food stamps, which for some is $200 per month.
"If they don't come in for it evidently there is no need for it, but those who need that assistance will come in," said Graves. "You're talking a ratio of 60-70% that are 'no show.' That's a lot of individuals who just choose to not come in."
Despite the "no shows," Graves believes the work mandate still needs to be waived in Mahoning County.
"Here in Youngstown regardless of what the unemployment rate looks like, there are a lot of individuals that are unemployed and there's no jobs. There are not enough jobs here," said Graves.
The Second Harvest Food Bank says at this point, it's too soon to tell if they will see an up-tick in need due to the work requirement.
They expect to see the impact, if any, by early spring.