By cutting their benefits. Ohioans Ohio families receiving food stamps could get an unwelcome surprise come January: $50 less every month in assistance. For the 869,000 households enrolled in the program for the poorest Ohioans, that could amount to about $520 million annually out of the grocery budgets. Because of the way the federal government calculates utility expenses for people receiving the benefit, a mild winter nationwide last year, and a lower price for natural gas, many families could experience a significant cut in aid, those familiar with the program say. Recipients should get a letter from the state Department of Job and Family Services this month explaining the change, said Ben Johnson, a spokesman for the agency. Meanwhile, food banks and others that distribute food assistance are bracing for increased demand. This is what happens when you turn your ability to take care of yourself over to the government. It gives and takes at whim.