Ohio Association of Foodbanks

Protecting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Through Earned Media Outreach

The Project

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) is the nation’s most important anti-hunger program and currently provides more than 1.4 million Ohioans with basic help affording groceries. On average, each person participating in the program receives $122 per month to help afford food when their household resources don’t meet their basic needs.

SNAP has been under threat at the federal level. During 2018, Congress was considering Farm Bill proposals that would limit access to SNAP by instituting work requirements for older workers (up to age 60) and parents with children over age 6.

Inspire implemented a multi-faceted advocacy and education campaign for the association to positively reinforce the benefits SNAP provides and how federal legislative proposals, such as provisions in the Farm Bill, could negatively impact millions of lowincome Ohioans.

As part of the campaign, Inspire executed the following strategies:

  • Drafted key messages and talking points for stakeholder groups
  • Pitched feature stories (e.g. highlighting “real” stories from the communities, explaining the relationship between hunger and healthy outcomes, etc.)
  • Distributed prepared news releases, media advisories and media statements to generate additional online coverage
  • Conducted editorial board visits in top Congressional districts
  • Developed template materials including letters to the editor, testimony, social media graphics, facts and data points, etc.
  • Created targeted and relevant social media posts and graphics to further amplify the message

The Results

  • Several major Ohio daily newspapers, including The Columbus Dispatch, Cleveland Plain Dealer and Akron Beacon Journal, editorialized in opposition to the House Farm Bill and in support of Ohio’s hunger relief providers.
  • A joint press call was coordinated and held with leaders from the Association, the Center for Community Solutions, Ohio Association of Area Agencies on Aging and the Hunger Network of Ohio to discuss the implications of the House Farm Bill.
  • The press call resulted in media coverage from Statehouse Press Corps media, including Hannah News Service and Gongwer News – two publications that every Ohio legislator reads daily.
  • Coverage was secured through statewide media generating hundreds of thousands of impressions and further making the case for why the SNAP program works.
  • Timely media statements were distributed following milestone announcements in the Farm Bill process (e.g. House Farm Bill announcement, Senate Farm Bill announcement, Committee, etc.), which allowed the association to have a voice.
  • A letter to the editor was submitted and published nearly each month in The Columbus Dispatch, the daily publication that Ohio legislators read, leading up to the final Farm Bill deliberations to amplify the association’s messages.
  • Social media posts and graphics were posted throughout the campaign on the association’s pages reaching more than 2,400 Facebook followers and 3,200 Twitter followers.

Ultimately, the association achieved its objectives to protect and strengthen SNAP in the Farm Bill. Congress came to a compromise. The Farm Bill reiterates the value of the SNAP program, not only to food insecure Americans, but to the communities in which they live. Members of Congress recognized that in order for the food system to remain strong and solvent, farmers and families alike need the security and peace of mind that comes with robust nutrition programs that ensure no individual goes hungry.