How to Apply for Food Stamps in Cuyahoga County (Ohio)

••• Ohio Directions Card. (© 2006 S. Mitchell; Licensed to About, Inc.)

Have you ever needed just a little help to buy groceries or maybe a few extra dollars to pay your utilities? As a struggling full-time college student, I decided to figure out how to get my government and taxes to work for me. The state of Ohio provides excellent resources through the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

Difficulty: Average

Time Required: Varies, but plan on two weeks once you speak to a case worker

Here's How:

  1. Are You Eligible?You may be eligible for food stamp assistance if your gross household income is within 130% of the federal poverty level or within 100% after allowable expenses. Your resources (cash, stocks, savings) cannot exceed $2000 ($3000 if over 65 or disabled.) If that's you, follow the simple steps below to receive a little help.
  2. Call: For Cuyahoga County (216)987-7000. If you live outside Cuyahoga County, the county government section in the blue-tabbed part of the white pages will have your county's numbers, probably under Employment and Family Services
  3. Visit: the Ohio Job and Family Services Website. This site goes directly to food assistance. It tells you where to find locations, how to download your application, and gives you a list of personal documents needed as well as links to other helpful information. I highly recommend that you explore the website.
  4. Go: After you find your local office-GO. You have to talk face-to-face with a worker if you want assistance. Walk in, find where you can take a number, wait till it’s called then go to the worker and they will either give you the application if you don’t have it and a list of personal documents needed or take your application if you have it completed, give you a list of personal documents needed, and give you a printout of an appointment time to come back, probably within 5-10 days.
  1. Application: Fill out your application and turn it in if you haven’t already and go to your appointed time. Be sure to take your appointment letter when you go on the day of your first scheduled appointment. Your best bet when you walk in is to take a number again or ask a worker. More than likely you will just take a seat and wait for your name to be called. At this point, the worker will type and you will sit and perhaps answer a question or two. And you will get a second appointment.
  1. Second Appointment: The second appointment is the one where your assistance will be determined. You will provide all your documents to your case worker who will then make copies and return everything. If you need something that may be available via fax or online be sure to ask if you can get these before you leave to turn in.
  2. Caseworker Review: If there is something you still need, your caseworker will give you a precise printout and a timeframe of two weeks to supply the necessary documents. When you drop off your additional documents be sure to have the printout given by your caseworker. You will walk in, take a number and drop off your paperwork to the worker who will give you a “receipt.”

    This information is current as of 6-28-16, but subject to change without notice.

    (last updated 6-28-16)


  1. Try to have your application already filled out the first time you go. You can download the application at your local library.
  2. Your caseworker should be thorough and perhaps suggest areas of assistance that you may not know like transportation and medical assistance.
  3. Get a file folder to keep all your personal documents and everything you receive together and organized.
  4. Carefully go through the list of required documents
  1. No matter what time you arrive expect to wait. Schedule a good chunk of time whenever you go to the ODJFS.

What You Need:

  • From the list, get all your 15 personal documents together. Major ones include:
  • Social Security Card
  • Proof of Identity
  • Proof of Age
  • Proof of Citizenship or Alien Status
  • Proof of Residence
  • Documentation of Utilities, Home Insurance, and Property Taxes
  • Proof of Income