The primary goals of Toledo Area Ministries’ Food Stamp Outreach are:

  • Food Stamp Outreach ProgramTo provide printed educational materials, displays, and community presentations on Ohio’s Food Assistance Program and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits;
  • To provide one-on-one SNAP pre-screening;
  • To provide one-on-one SNAP application assistance, offering paper-version as well as an electronically submitted application processes through the Ohio Benefit Bank;
  • To provide advocacy and follow-up services to our client households, during and after the application process;
  • To provide all of these services at our main offices and also scheduled throughout the community at other locations, utilizing our call center toll-free number, 1-866-210-8607.

Contact Information:
Jim Brenizer, Director, 419-410-7502 (cell), toll-free at 1-866-210-8607, or Or complete the following confidential form for more information:

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How to Get Involved:

Announcing the Top Ten Ways to Bring Food Stamp Outreach to Your Site!

  1. Display food stamp posters, flyers, magnets, and other materials in your place of worship. Contact Jim Brenizer, Project Director for the Lucas County Food Stamp Outreach Ministry, Toledo Area Ministries (TAM) by cell phone 419-410-7502, or email at to obtain materials.
  2. Form an outreach partnership with TAM.  Please contact Jim Brenizer (as above) to develop and implement an outreach strategy for your church or organization.As you may know, TAM’s Lucas County Food Stamp Outreach Ministry has already established the foundation for this through a three-year USDA/FNS grant through 2012 with several community grant partners, including the Lucas County Department of Job & Family Services, The Area Office on Aging of Northwestern Ohio, Inc., The Ohio State University Extension Office of Lucas County, and Mobile Meals of Toledo, Inc.  Please contact Jim Brenizer as above.
  3. Invite us to staff a food stamp information table to give out information, pre-screen for eligibility and provide application assistance to households for food stamp benefits after worship service, or during other sponsored events.
    We use the USDA/FNS SNAP pre-screening tool available here and we are Ohio Benefit Bank (OBB) trained counselors who can also electronically file (e-file) food stamp applications to save time and speed up receiving benefits.
    TAM’s Lucas County Food Stamp Outreach Ministry would be pleased to schedule visits through Project Director Jim Brenizer, in coordination with your upcoming events. Jim will be happy to offer the website pre-screening tools and Ohio Benefit Bank application e-file process on-site at your event.
  4. Put food stamp information in bulletins, newsletters, or other items given or mailed to the congregation or community.
    Materials may be requested by contacting Jim Brenizer at 419-410-7502 (cell), toll-free at 1-866-210-8607, or
  5. Food Stamp Outreach Program Train all staff including parish nurses, lay leaders, faith leaders, and others with basic information about food stamps and where and how residents can get more information about food stamp benefits.
    Those interested may contact Jim Brenizer about upcoming training opportunities scheduled throughout the year, or by request.  You can also:
  6. Encourage local food retailers to be active partners by printing the national (1-800-221-5689) or local food stamp toll free number on grocery bags, receipts, and in weekly circulars and bulletins. Work with them to host outreach and pre-screening events.
    TAM’s Lucas County Food Stamp Outreach Ministry would like to help facilitate this with your congregation as a part of our outreach. You can also request from us to:
  7. Additionally publish and disseminate food stamp materials in languages other than English spoken in the community.
    TAM’s Lucas County Food Stamp Outreach Ministry has these materials available in several languages produced by USDA/FNS.
  8. If your organization manages a food pantry or food bank, include food stamp information with every package of food you distribute. Offer food stamp pre-screening to clients from our ministry.
    Here is an example of an upcoming activity of all of our Feed Your Neighbor pantry sites:
  9. Host a nutritious food tasting, cooking demonstration, or health fair at your place of worship. Give out recipe cards that contain nutrition information and the local food stamp toll-free number. Check out the recipe finder. Ask TAM to conduct food stamp eligibility pre-screenings and invite local media to the event.
    We would love to add our presence at your event, with material and pre-screening activities. Contact Jim Brenizer, Project Director, at 419-410-7502 (cell), toll-free at 1-866-210-8607, or
  10. Encourage local elected officials to speak about the positive economic impacts of food stamp benefits for community residents and the local economy.

TAM will be happy to assist with contacting our elected officials and arrange their participation with our area’s Food Stamp Challenge activities held yearly, to ask participants to try and eat using the food stamp allotment and available community assistance programs.

Case Examples of Individual or Family Success Stories:

Food Stamp Outreach ProgramJim Brenizer, Project Director, relays the following:

I was asked in March to see a family being helped by The Bridge Ministries, the outreach ministries branch of the church our FS Outreach project is housed in, and spoke with a 77 year old father, who is a veteran, and his two adult sons.  The three live together and meet the definition of a household/assistance group.  The father had a stated income from pension of $806.00 per month, and reported living from check to check. He and his sons were renting.  We went through the pre-screening tool and after entering their information, the tool indicated that they would be eligible for food stamps with the approximate monthly benefit estimated at $345.00.  I gave the father written information about how to apply for food stamp assistance.  He indicated that he and his sons would apply at the local JFS office and they had transportation. I also provided the father with contact info for veterans’ assistance programs for our county. I also provided the two sons with additional information on community resources that could assist with job searches, training, etc.

We learned from The Bridge Ministries Director, Sandra Avilez, that this family had successfully applied that March for food stamp benefits and received the Ohio Direction Card.  Their monthly benefit was calculated at $500, which is a huge increase in their useable resources for food.  As a result, they are now more economically secure, able to save money and have not returned to The Bridge Ministries for direct assistance.  The father is also benefiting from contacting the local veterans’ office.  Sons were on the path to receive job training and both found full-time jobs through the local office of The Source.  Sandra states that they are all very grateful and would be willing to share their success story with us and others. 

This client story was chosen by the USDA/FNS to be placed on the White House website, in 2008.

Young single female, just out of a bad relationship, able to apply for food stamps at $155/mo. Has also linked up with FYN at Epiphany Lutheran – would not have known about food stamps had we not been there to offer screenings and is thankful we are able to help her fill out her paperwork and turn it in for her to JFS.

Direct Volunteer Opportunities:

Become an Ohio Benefit Bank Counselor!!  This opportunity would require a minimum amount of hours each week, a proficient ability in navigating the internet and using a computer, have reliable transportation, excellent communication skills and a desire to serve!  Call Jim Brenizer at 419-410-7502 for more details.

Current Updates:

The Lucas County Food Stamp Outreach Ministry was just awarded a grant to expand the program!  We are one of only 6 agencies chosen nationally for this grant which will award the program $3 million over the next two to three years.  The grant is aimed at reaching a larger population of citizens aged 60 and older to help ensure they have access to nutritious food.  For more details click here.

Lucas County Food Stamp Outreach Ministry ’10 Highlights

Target Population: Working poor and seniors in Lucas County, Ohio who receive services through 13 Feed Your Neighbor sites, 15 Senior Centers and 8 Family Resource Centers. 


  • Food Assistance/SNAP outreach provided at 13 Feed Your Neighbor pantry sites, 6 soup kitchens, 14 Senior Center sites, tenants of 2 mobile home parks, and 3 Family Resource Centers in the Toledo Area; a total of 132 Feed Your Neighbor, 81 Senior Center and 19 Family Resource Center visits were scheduled and completed; staff and interns made in excess of 1,600 contacts and assisted client households with 377 combined USDA/SNAP and Ohio Benefit Bank pre-screenings and 426 people from 185 households were assisted with completing SNAP applications;
  • There were an additional 39 households who requested applications to complete, per their preference; we directed 26 other callers from out of county (who found us on the Internet) to either their county 2-1-1 or their county job & family services office for application assistance and other secondary social service needs;
  • After new staff member Dana Verstraete was trained and then functioning as Ohio Benefit Bank (OBB) benefits counselor along with myself, we were able to offer electronic filing of applications; exactly 43 households chose to e-file using the OBB website;
  • Continuing our practice of pre-screening all households that applied allowed us to maintain our record of no applications rejected due to incompleteness, or incorrect information;
  • USDA/FNS PSA's were run on local Cumulus Broadcasting radio station FM99.9 K-100, which has the largest listening audience in the region, which raised awareness;
  • We developed and continue to use, a USDA/FNS certificate of appreciation to give to our local grant partners who supported our outreach efforts; we use a USDA template with gold embossed seal and added local information with the document signed by our Executive Director and framed for display; we plan to continue the practice;
  • Over 14,000 SNAP and 3,000 Ohio Benefit Bank brochures were distributed, along with 880 English and 175 Spanish versions of the newer USDA booklets (limit one per household) on nutrition (based on the USDA food pyramid) related to SNAP and a variety of recipes using a selection of commodities; each has a label with our TAM phone number and Lucas County Department of Job & Family Services (LCDJFS) Food Assistance Program number for assistance;
  • Thanks to our 232 educational site presentations (one each time we visited a site each month) to working poor and seniors that averaged 27 in attendance each, we were able to address many of the myths about SNAP and update eligibility info on changes that usually occur each October 1st; this year, we made sure our clientele knew that there were no changes in the eligibility information through October 1, 2011; we focused again on the 10 biggest myths about SNAP, taken from our USDA/FNS and Ohio Food Assistance Program literature;
  • We used the same method of best-case estimate of annual new SNAP benefit dollars generated from our outreach, by taking the dollar average within the pre-screening ranges of each household and multiplying this by 12 to get an annual amount, as follows: Total Projected Annual FYN Client SNAP Benefits: $182,646.00 Total Projected Annual Senior Ctr. Client SNAP Benefits: 44,311.00 Total Projected Annual OBB Client SNAP Benefits: 72,808.00 Total Projected Annual SNAP Benefits: $299,765.00
  • the USDA estimates that for every $5 in SNAP benefits, another $9.20 is realized in additional community spending; based on this, our estimated additional spending benefitting the local economy in Lucas County through SNAP totals $551,567.60.


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