A few days ago, I read an editorial in your publication regarding the lack of timeliness in the processing and approval of applications for food assistance. Your article cited the performance of Hamilton County, which is where Cincinnati is located. I thought your readers might be interested in knowing how we are doing here in Columbiana County, so I gathered together some statistics to share.
Since the economic downturn in late 2008, the number of people receiving food assistance in Columbiana County has increased by 45 percent - from 12,711 to 17,632. That is a little over 16 percent of our total population. During that period, the dollar amount of food assistance issued has increased by about 40 percent - from a little over $16 million to over $23 million.
Due to Ohio's budget crisis, we imposed a hiring freeze in December 2008. Since then, we have lost 11 workers in our Public Assistance Division through resignation and retirement. That is a 45 percent decrease in staff available to handle food assistance applications. During those same three years, we have been able to improve our timeliness in processing applications from 84 percent of all applications processed within 30 days back in 2008 when we had 37 employees available to do this work to 89 percent in 2011 when we had only 26 employees to do 45 percent more work.
We have done this through finding every efficiency we could eke out of our work process. I wish we could be closer to 100 percent, but we are working hard to improve in this area. We agree with your position that people who come to us in need of assistance with the most basic of all human needs -food - should not have to wait to get help.
These are tough times for many families in our county, state, and across the country. While Congress debates the future of "entitlement" programs, here at home we know that people from all walks of life benefit from assistance with food. We serve the disabled, the elderly, and many, many working people who simply do not make enough money to make all the ends meet. We are glad we are here to help.
of Job and Family Services