ready to find employment?

Food Assistance


Food Assistance helps families stretch their food budgets to buy healthy food. The program is designed to increase nutritional levels and safeguard the health and well-being of Allen County residents. Benefits are distributed on a “Ohio Direction Card” which can be used like a debit card at the grocery store.

Healthy people under 60 can also participate in Food Assistance Employment and Training (FAET) while receiving food assistance to help them gain work experience and move toward self-sufficiency.

Ultimately, food assistance helps families meet their basic needs while adults work toward financial stability. Food Assistance (formerly known as the food stamp program) is known nationally as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Do I Qualify?

Eligibility for food assistance is complex – based on income guidelines and family size – but both families and individuals may be eligible to receive food assistance.

You may qualify for benefits if your household’s gross monthly income is at or under 130% of the federal poverty guidelines. Some households may qualify if they have incomes over the limit if someone in the household is elderly or disabled. To get a better idea of if you may qualify, use the USDA’s food assistance calculator or apply for food assistance.


The Ohio Direction Card

Once families have been approved for food assistance, the Ohio Direction Card (also known as the Electronic Benefit Transfer EBT card) is issued and sent to the individual or family’s address. It can be used at most grocery stores across Allen County.

How does the card work?

The card looks similar to and works like a credit or debit card. It can be used in most any food store checkout line. Check with the grocery store you go to most frequently and ask how your card will work.

When users make eligible grocery purchases, they simply swipe the card through a reader at the register; the amount is deducted from the total monthly benefit amount. Remember that “eligible purchases” means food or food products but excludes alcohol, tobacco and food prepared to eat immediately, such as food at restaurants.

Learn More

To find out more information about the Ohio Direction Card, to check your account balance, review your transaction history, report that you are moving, or report a lost or stolen card call, 1-866-386-3071 or visit The Ohio Direction Card website.

Meeting the Work Requirement

Once a family or individual is approved for food assistance, adults of the family who are considered Able-Bodied Adults without Dependents (ABAWD) must meet the work requirement in order to continue to receive food assistance.

An ABAWD is any individual who is:

  • At least 18 years old, but not yet 50,
  • Able-bodied,
  • Not pregnant, and
  • Not in an assistance group with a minor child.

There are several different ways to meet the work requirement.

  1. Work 20 hours per week.
  2. Participate 20 hours per week in a job search program (for a maximum of three months).
  3. Participate in a work experience program. The number of hours you must complete is the amount you are receiving in food assistance, divided by the State minimum wage.

See the Steps Toward Employment & Permanent Self-Sufficiency (STEPS) Program Packet 

Submit an Interim Report

After you begin receiving public assistance benefits, you will occasionally receive an interim report in the mail to update your case. It is very important that if you have received an interim report, you complete it quickly and on-time to ensure your benefits are continued. If you do not submit the interim report by the deadline, your benefits will be terminated.

If you have lost your interim report, or would prefer to submit it online, you can do so through the state portal below.


Program Enrollment and Benefit Information

For complete information about cash, food and medical assistance, you may want to review the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) Program Enrollment and Benefit Information booklet.

The booklet may help you determine:

  • What types of services ODJFS offers
  • Frequently asked questions about applying
  • The difference between various Medicaid programs and services
  • Your rights and responsibilities
  • Information about state hearings
  • Penalties for providing false information or committing fraud
  • How we use social security numbers
  • Information about citizenship and immigration status
  • Your civil rights
  • And other helpful resources

Learn More

Non-Discrimination Statement

USDA Conducted Programs

All other FNS Nutrition Assistance Programs


If you believe you have been delayed or denied services because of your race, color, religion, disability, age, gender, sexual orientation or national origin, you may file a complaint within 180 days of the incident or treatment. For questions about how to file a complaint, call the ODJFS Bureau of Civil Rights, toll-free, at 1-866-227-6353. For more information, review the civil rights section of the ODJFS Program Enrollment and Benefit Information document.

State Hearings

If you disagree with any action on your case or if you believe ACJFS has not taken an action it should have, you may request a hearing by phoning the ODJFS Consumer Access Line at 1-866-635-3748, emailing your request to [email protected] or contact Allen County directly at (419) 228-2621 or [email protected].

To find out more about state hearings, please review the state hearing section of the ODJFS Program Enrollment and Benefit Information document.

Finding Food in an Emergency

There may be a waiting period for individuals and families applying for food assistance before they begin receiving benefits. If you need food help today, there are several resources available to assist you in the help that you may need.

West Ohio Food Bank October ’19 Mobile Food Distributions

The National Hunger Hotline

The National Hunger Hotline is a national service that can help you find food near your home. Call the hotline at 1-866-3-HUNGRY (1-866-348-6479) to get help or visit

United Way’s 211

Allen County residents can also call 211 to get help and access a variety of services. Callers can get help 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For more information visit

Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen List

Below is a list of local Allen County Food Pantry & Soup Kitchen locations. To print a copy, click here.

Soup Kitchens

Our Daily Bread

125 S. Central Avenue


Provides continental breakfast & hot lunch

Monday-Friday 10:30am-3pm


Christian Community Corner

1601 McClain Road

Provides meal services


Monday, Wednesday, Friday 8am-2pm


Food Pantries

Allentown UMC

4900 Allentown Road, Lima. (419)-339-2558

Last 2 Saturdays of the month, 9am-12pm.

Photo ID for head of household & social security card for each household member required, current utility bill for proof of Allen County Residence.


Blue Star Mothers

801 w. North St., Lima (419) 224-5630

Wednesday and Friday, 1pm-4pm.

Photo ID & proof of veteran status or spouse/widow(er) of veteran.


Cairo UM Church

210 W. Main Street, Cairo. (419)-641-3401

2nd Saturday of the month 10am-12pm and the Wednesday after that from 5-7pm

Government ID required (Ohio) and utility bill for proof of address (residency).


Churches United Pantry (CUP)

129 S. Pierce Street. (419)-221-3243

No set hours, client needs to call number above to see if volunteers are available. Must bring photo ID for head of household, social security card for all household members, and current utility bill for proof of Allen County residence.


Community Samaritans

Trinity United Methodist Church

215 W 4th Street, Spencerville. (419)-647-4451

Third Thursday of every month, 5-7pm.


County Line Church of the Brethren

4227 N. Hardin Road, Harrod. (419)-649-5364

Tuesdays 10am-1pm.

Only serve people within 10-mile radius of the church. Call office number to see if in the area. Bring a photo ID and current utility bill for proof of Allen County residence.


Faith Harvest

Perry United Methodist Church

3250 E. Breese Road, Lima. (419)-221-3250

Last 2 Saturday’s of the month 9am-12pm.

Bring photo ID for head of household, social security card for each household member and current utility bill for proof of Allen County residence.


Firm Foundation

125 S. McDonel Street, Lima. (419)-227-8139

Last two Tuesdays of the month, 10am-12pm.

Bring photo ID for head of household, social security card for each household member and current utility bill for proof of Allen County residence.


Full Gospel Tabernacle of Praise

1334 Reese Avenue, Lima.

Last two Tuesdays of the month, 9am-12pm.

Bring photo ID for head of household, social security card for each household member and current utility bill for proof of Allen County residence.


In Faith Ministries

1575 E High St. Lima, OH 45804. (419)-225-8871

Last Wednesday of the month 11am-12-pm.

Bring photo ID.


LACNIP Midway East

727 E. Kibby Street, Lima.

Serving Freedom Elementary Area, Monday-Friday 1pm-5pm.

Photo ID for head of household, social security card for each household member, and current utility bill for proof of Allen County residence. Bring these items, complete application, and return the next day for food box.


Salvation Army

614 E Market Street, Lima. (419)-224-9055

Call for appointment Monday-Friday 9am-12pm or 1pm-2:45pm.

Business hours 9am-5pm, lunch 12pm-1pm.


St. Vincent De Paul Center

688 S Main Street, Lima.


Good Ground WW Food Pantry

5300 Spencerville Rd. Lima, OH 45805 – (419)-905-1963

Open 3rd & 4th Saturday of the month 10AM-1PM


New Life Christian Ministries Food Pantry & Meal Site

202 W. Kibby St. Lima, OH 45804 – (419)-227-3997

Open 2nd & 4th Monday of the month 4:30PM-6:30PM


St. Mark’s UMC at Forest Park UMC

215 S. Collins Ave., Lima, OH 45804 – (419)227-8445

Thursdays 10AM-12PM


Veterans Food Pantry

810 W North St. Lima, OH 45805 – (419)-224-5630

Open Wednesdays & Fridays 1PM-3:45PM

Must have proof of veteran’s status

Voter Registration

If you are applying or re-applying for food/cash/medical assistance, or moving, you must complete a Voter Registration form by clicking here. Please read instructions carefully. For further information, you may consult the Secretary of State’s website at: or call (877) 767-6446.

Contact Us

Please use the following information to contact us about food assistance:

Phone: (419) 999 – 0312

Fax: (419) 999 – 0281

Email: [email protected]