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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.  For additional FAQs or to see if you’re eligible, CLICK HERE.


The Ohio Direction Card (EBT 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.

View Electronic Benefit Transfers HERE.

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.

Tips for keeps your SNAP EBT and Cash Cards SAFE

NEW! SNAP EBT Cardlock Feature – WATCH HERE!

What is happening?
According to the Federal Food and Nutrition Service, Ohio is among a number of states being targeted by criminals stealing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. This is known as skimming. In skimming, criminals use a device placed over a point-of-sale card reader that steals information from payment cards like SNAP EBT and cash assistance cards. This means SNAP or cash assistance benefits could be stolen without you knowing.


What steps should I take to help stop this?
You do NOT need to ask for a new card. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services suggests these steps for anyone using a SNAP or cash assistance card.

  • Take the time now to change the personal identification number (PIN) for your EBT or cash cards.
  • Change your PIN monthly, before each scheduled benefit deposit.
  • You may want to change your PIN after making an online purchase using an EBT or cash card and PIN.
  • Never share the EBT or cash card number or PIN if asked for through an email, text message, or over the phone.
  • Carefully look at any card reader before using your card: Skimming devices can be placed over the card reader. Check if a reader sticks out or doesn’t seem secure.
  • When using your card, cover the keypad with your body or hand to stop someone from seeing your PIN. Scammers sometimes try to get your PIN by watching from a distance.
  • Check your EBT balance regularly, and monitor your transaction history.
  • Report any duplicate or unauthorized transactions immediately.
  • Immediately report your card if it is lost, no longer working, stolen, or if you notice anything unusual.
  • Do not respond to social media posts, email, or text messages that ask you to enter your EBT card number and PIN to resolve issues or get extra funds.
  • Never click on links that you receive through texts or emails unless it comes from a known, reliable, and expected source.


How do I change my PIN?
You can change your PIN by logging into your online account at for SNAP or for cash cards. You can also call 1-866-386-3071 for SNAP or 1-866-320-8822 for cash cards and follow the prompts to change your PIN.

What do I do if I think my benefits were stolen?
If you believe your benefits were stolen, change the EBT or cash PIN number right away. Then ask for a new EBT or cash card by calling 1-866-386-3071 for SNAP or 1-866-320-8822 for cash cards. Notify your local County Department of Job and Family Services and file a theft report with your local law enforcement agency. Contact information for your local JFS may be found at


ODJFS will be taking measures to reach our recipients through text messaging, robo calls and updating the Ohio Benefits self-service portal bringing awareness of best practices of protecting the EBT/EPC card.

These best practices can be found at: Tips-for-keeping-your-SNAP-EBT-and-Cash-cards-safe.stm

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 

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 or contact Allen County directly at (419) 228-2621 or

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

The Bureau of State Hearings is excited to announce that the redesigned SHARE (State Hearings Access to Records Electronically) Portal has been deployed this week.  The SHARE Portal allows appellant’s to directly access their state hearing information electronically.  The login and password for the SHARE site is the same as the login and password for the Ohio Benefits Self-Service Portal.  The Portal will provide access for appellants and authorized representatives to: review state hearing records, request a hearing, upload a document, request a reschedule,  or withdraw a hearing.   The website is  Please check out the website when  you have the opportunity.  New language regarding the SHARE Portal is scheduled to be added to the Ohio Benefits Notices as of the release of 3.5.1 on October 14.  With this change, we are hoping to increase use of the SHARE portal as the primary way for appellants to request and manage their state hearing information.

This video, which is also included on the Portal, explains how appellants can use the SHARE Portal:

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.

Food Pantries & Soup Kitchen locations in Allen County

Click here

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

Voter Registration

If you are applying or re-applying for food/cash/medical assistance, or moving, 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.

Additional Resources

Allen County has several other resources available that can be found HERE.

Contact Us

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

Phone: (419) 228 – 2621

Fax: (419) 999 – 0281