Where Do We Go Now?

On March 12, 1997, sixty homeless and low-income individuals boarded two buses to Columbus. They gathered at the Statehouse to protest the Governor’s decision to not implement the waiver of Food Stamps and recent welfare decisions.

(The State of Ohio received permission to exclude areas with a labor surplus like Cleveland and Stark County from the cut-off of Food Stamps in March.) In Cuyahoga County 12,800 people are going to lose their Food Stamps this month if they are not volunteering or working.

The group presented the Governor’s staff with job applications for those that came down on the bus. Each application represented 2,000 people who were going to be cut off, and who cannot find a job. At this time, the governor has not found a job for any of the people that went down on the bus, and nor has he approved the waiver.

One question asked was, “Where do you see yourself in five years.” Thirty applications were delivered to the Governor, and 10% of them said that in five years they see themselves dead if they do not find a job or shelter.

Grapevine:     What are you gonna do when your FOOD STAMPS get cut?

Marcelina:      I’ll be out here like the rest of them. I gotta survive. My mind started thinking, I wasn’t raised to take things but if I’m really hungry I might take food!

GV:     What do you think of the current FOOD STAMPS program?

George:          Awful, Real bad. Jobs are really scarce. How can you just cut people off?

GV:     What do you think of the current FOOD STAMPS program?

Sheila: As the program stands now it’s not gonna work!

GV:     Do you receive FOOD STAMPS?

Sheila: Yes. $96.00 monthly.

GV:     What are you gonna do when your FOOD STAMPS are cut off?

Sheila: Now, I’ll just starve. But I take medication. What am I gonna do??

GV:     What will you do when your FOOD STAMPS get cut off?

Fred:   I’ll have to eat at churches and meal sites like I’ve been doing and starve the other times.

GV:     What do you think of the current FOOD STAMPS program?

Carl:   People need the FOOD STAMPS to survive. What will they do with out it? Just walk around and look for food I suppose...

GV:     What do you think of the current FOOD STAMPS program?

Coco:  I need it.

GV:     Do you volunteer?

Coco:  Yes. 20+ hours at Bishop Cosgrove. I’ve done everything the system wants me to and I’m still getting cut off.

GV:     What are you gonna do?

Coco:  I don’t know. Scrimp and scrounge, try something..I don’t want to go from good to bad I’ve come to far.

GV:     How do you feel about the cutbacks?

Gentleman:    I go off the 1st of next month. I don’t know, I just don’t know. I work a temp job now I can’t find anything steady.

Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine published March 1997-April 1997 Issue 20