Friday, May 2, 2014



Stark County public officials (including the county political subdivisions) should not expect this to continue, but today The Report repeats one of those rare occasions in the day-to-day of this blog in writing an uncritical blog.  However, this blog is analytical in terms of:
  • looking at the Stark County numbers,
  • considering Ohio's numbers, and
  • getting a picture of  the scope of fraudulent use of SNAP
One of the regular attendees at weekly Stark County commissioner meetings (each and every Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. in the commissioners' meeting room on the second floor of the Stark County Office Building) is one Tim Aral of Louisville, Ohio who attends these meetings as a Stark County citizen, voter, taxpayer and union official.

Tim is an Eligibility Referral Specialist 2 with the Stark County Job and Family Services (SCJ&FS) agency or department of Stark County government.

He has been (according to county auditor records) an employee since October 1, 2001.

Tim like all other county employees take a great deal of pride in the work they do for the citizens of Stark County.

Last Wednesday (April 30th), Tim Aral took advantage of that place on the agenda of the Stark commissioners' weekly meeting to take the floor during Public Speaks to share with the commissioners and the Stark County public a success that his agency of Stark County government achieved for the month of March of this year.
SCJ&FS's SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) has been recognized, he shared at the commissioners' meeting, for achieving a 96% efficiency rate in processing monthly applications for participation in SNAP by Stark Countians.

The 96% figure puts Ohio at the top of at all 88 Ohio counties in terms of performance efficiency.  Of particular note is the fact that the performance, of course,  is superior to Ohio's other urban centers.

Burgess tells The Report that our local agency processed 2,177 applications for SNAP benefits in March.  Applying the 96% factor translates into 2,090 applications were completed by March 31st.

New executive director of the SCJ&FS department, Deborah Forkas (March 10, 2014, biography LINK), happened to be at Wendesday's meeting on another matter.

The SCPR caught up with her and asked her to comment on Aral's presentation to commissioners.

Spokesperson Bill Burgess of SCJ&FS tells the SCPR that there are more than 60,000 individual Stark Countians who participate in SNAP.

At the State of Ohio level, here are the latest figures on SNAP participation:

The USDA's website says that the average monthly benefit value per individual is $133.50.
Aral is the vice president of  United Steel Workers Local 9187 and as such represents over 300 SCJ&FS employees.

Unfortunately, way too many everyday citizens view SNAP has being rife with fraud.

However, such does not appear to be the case when one looks at the data (LINK) and efforts to curb fraud.

Citizens are encouraged to report suspicions of SNAP fraud.  An example of the governmental efforts to curb fraud is a USDA webpage which provides contact information for reporting suspected fraud (LINK).

Moreover, the USDA dedicates a page (LINK) with suggestions on how fraud can be prevented.

And, there are limitations on how recipients can use this public benefit.

A Stark County Political Report "tip-of-the-hat" to Stark County citizen, taxpayer, union official and employee Tim Aral and his cohort at Stark's Job and Family Services unit.

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