December 18, 2014

Medina
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Grant to help people get off food stamps

MEDINA — Medina County Job and Family Services has received a $150,000 grant that will help find jobs for about 100 of the county’s food stamp recipients.

Agency Director Mead Wilkins said more funding became needed last year after Gov. John Kasich announced single, able-bodied food stamp recipients would have to work to obtain assistance. A federal waiver had been in place for six years previously because of high unemployment rates.

Kasich’s decision not to reapply for the waiver affected 900 able-bodied Medina County residents ages 18 to 60 with no children, Wilkins said. Some were put to work at places like Medina Assembly and Packaging, while others gave up their food assistance to seek aid elsewhere.

Wilkins said the grant, which was awarded to just 10 of Ohio’s 88 counties by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, will fund a new program to help about 100 of those people find permanent employment.

“So now we have to assign all these people to work activities, and the goal clearly is to help them get a job,” Wilkins said. “But if you’ve got college graduates not being able to find jobs, how do you get people with barriers to employment finding jobs?”

Wilkins said one way she hopes to find those people work is to rely on temporary agencies.

“With temporary agencies, if the workers are successful, they may be hired,” Wilkins said. “If they’re not, the companies aren’t stuck with costs of training and other issues that make them not want to take the risk in hiring right off the bat.”

In addition, Wilkins said working as a temporary employee grants people job experience they may not otherwise receive.
He said the main goal is to get those people out of poverty, but having a job may not be enough.

“The stereotype is that these are poor people just sitting on their butts doing nothing,” Wilkins said. “But a lot of them are working their butts off and are still in poverty.”

The program is a partnership with Tri-County Jobs for Ohio’s Graduates, which serves Medina, Summit and Portage counties.
Wilkins said part of the reason Medina County was selected was because her agency already had contacts with Jobs for Ohio’s Graduates and with Medina Assembly and Packaging.

To qualify for food assistance, a single-person household must make less than $14,532 per year. The threshold is $19,680 for a two-person household.

Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or nglunt@medina-gazette.com.