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Food Assistance Program Frequently Asked Questions

Food Assistance Frequently Asked Questions


What is the food assistance program?

Food assistance is a monthly benefit given to eligible families to help them buy food. The program is designed to increase nutritional levels, to expand buying power, and to safeguard the health and well-being of Stark County residents living in low-income households.


Who can get food assistance?

Families and individuals can receive this benefit.  Eligibility is based on factors such as family size, income, assets (checking and savings accounts, stocks and bonds, etc), resources and expenses.  Generally, individuals and families with low or no income may qualify. Healthy people under the age of 60 years old may have to participate in a work activity to receive benefits. Approval is not automatic. Applicants must meet federal requirements for the program.


How can I apply for food assistance?

You can submit your application in the following ways:

  • Call 1 (844) 640-OHIO (6446) An audio signature will be required if applying by phone.
  • Online –Click to apply online.
  • Print an application 
    • Fax your signed application to (330) 451-8925
    • Deliver in person by dropping off a signed application at our agency located at 221 3rd St SE
    • Mail your signed application to 221 3rd St SE, Canton, OH 44702

What will I need to apply for food assistance?

You may need proof of the following:

  • Your Social Security number or proof that you’ve applied for one
  • Proof of income (from such things as pay stubs, tax records or child support notices)
  • Identity (for example, a driver’s license or state ID)
  • Child care/dependent care costs
  • Child support paid for children not living with you
  • Housing and utility costs
  • Any medical expenses for those with disabilities or for those over age 60 (including prescriptions)

Your county office may verify the information that you provide by contacting other agencies or people. The county office also may ask you to provide other documents. If you need help getting any documents, be sure to tell your caseworker.


How is food assistance distributed?

Once eligibility is determined, the Ohio Direction Card is issued and sent to the individual’s or family’s address on record. It can be used at most grocery stores across Stark 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 grocery purchases” means food or food products except alcohol, tobacco, and food prepared to eat immediately, such as food at restaurants.


What can I buy with food assistance benefits?

You can use your food assistance benefits to buy most food or food products,. However, the following items may not be purchased:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Tobacco
  • Vitamins and/or medicines
  • Hot food products that are prepared to be eaten immediately
  • Non-food items (such as pet food, paper products, soaps and household supplies)

You are not allowed to sell or trade food assistance benefits, buy non-food items, or use your food assistance benefits to buy food for someone who is not a member of your household.


Is there a time limit for eligibility?

It depends on the household’s circumstances. Recertification – a review of each household case – usually happens at least once every 12 months. Some cases may be reviewed more often if there are many changes or if someone earns money through a job, public assistance, or Social Security, to name a few.


How does Stark County JFS maintain the program’s integrity?

In addition to case reviews, random situations are reviewed to determine current eligibility and appropriate use of the benefits.


What if I think my civil rights have been violated?

Your county department of child and family services and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) are public agencies that manage federal money. Laws do not allow discrimination in programs that use federal money.  Discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, religion or political beliefs is against the law.  To file a complaint of discrimination with the ODJFS Bureau of Civil Rights, write to ODJFS, Bureau of Civil Rights, 30 E. Broad St., 37th floor, Columbus, Ohio 43215, or call (614) 644-2703 or toll-free 1-866-227-6353. If you are hearing impaired, call 1-866-221-6700. You also may fax a complaint to (614) 752-6381. To file a complaint of discrimination with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), write to USDA Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, or call (202) 720-5964 (voice and TDD).



A person who has difficulty speaking or understanding English, or who is hearing impaired and is not able to communicate effectively with county job and family services staff, has the right to an interpreter. The cost of the interpreter will be paid by the county department of job and family services. The county office must provide an interpreter to you if you need one.  Individuals may bring an interpreter with them, such as a bilingual friend or relative. However, friends and relatives who are not trained interpreters may not be able to accurately and completely translate some things the agency says. Minor children should never be used as an interpreter.

Stark County Commissioners Executive Director
Stark County Job & Family Services
221 3rd St SE
Canton, OH, US 44702
Stark JFS
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