October 24, 2014
Hunger Task Force
October Meeting Information
Please join us - in person or by phone - as we discuss a number of important issues in the fight against hunger.
The meeting is open to everyone interested in the issue of hunger.
To call please dial 1-712/432-1500, then, at the prompt, dial 167856# [pound sign] when asked.
Chair, Hunger Task Force
Click the link below to view the newest State of the State poverty report:
Hunger Task Force Members and Allies:
First Time Below 900,000 Since February 2010
Missouri Food Stamp Recipient Total Drops Significantly Again In October
The number of Missourians receiving food stamps decreased by 8,836 from September to October of this year, marking the first time Missouri had less than 900,000 receiving stamps since February 2010. The total is down close to 60,000 people from its peak during the depths of the Great Recession.
So, why are pantries across the state reporting demand equal to or greater than last year?
Perhaps part of the answer lies a few lines higher in the October 2013 Family Support Division/ MO HealthNet Division Monthly Management Report: applications received during October 2013 were down 14.2% from 10/12 and applications approved dropped 15.4%. More telling, in August 2013 DSS received 72,044 food stamp applications. This October the number was just 60,006.
As regular readers know, DSS has been rolling-out its latest re-organization scheme in recent months. The high-volume offices in St. Louis City and St. Louis County have become the Beta Testers with people seeking help being pointed towards racks of forms and folding tables in the lobby and told to do their best completing the paperwork. Their papers go into envelopes left in the “drop-box” and backroom workers then telephone them for follow-up to complete (and activate) the application. Many of us have heard horror stories from DSS “customers” (their word) stymied by the process. From August to September the drop in recipients in the city and county was 50% higher than the state average. (Take out those two monster county totals and the difference soars above 60%.) In October the state total dropped about 9/10ths of 1% while the city and county were each down about 1.2%, or, roughly 30% higher than the state average.
I’ll wager bagels and coffee that thousands of people who qualify for food stamps aren’t getting them because the new system isn’t working well.
Things could be made better. For example, I was in a meeting where it was suggested to DSS senior management that they could do bar code tracking of those application envelopes. Give the customer a receipt with a tracking number, scan the envelope into the system and then trace it from stop to stop. Nothing like that has happened even though DSS admits it loses stuff – Social Security Cards, paycheck stubs and utility receipts included.
I’ve also heard reliable reports from other parts of Missouri that “work flow” improvements have partially-completed applications being farmed out from busy offices to rural ones. Again, phone call follow-up at best.
Meanwhile, the number of people on Temporary Assistance is down 13% from October 2012 to 10/13. The monthly total of payments has dropped below $8 million – just over half what St. Louis County residents alone got in food stamp benefits.
Oct. 2013 Oct. 2012
Temporary Assistance 89,439 Total 102,853
59,518 Total Kids 67,908
$7.97 million Total $9.27
$228.36 Average $232.15
MO HealthNet 857,557 Enrolled 883,656
902,353 Total 925,667
$634.45 Per Person $707.53
$199.60 Managed $188.57
Care Per Person
Oct. 2013 Oct. 2012 Oct. 2011 Oct. 2010
Statewide Recipients 896,475 942,918 950,725 927,581
Benefit Total $115.2 million $120.9 $121.7 $116.1
Per Person $128.53 $128.27 $128.00 $125.19
Per Meal $1.38 $1.38 $1.38 $1.35
County Totals October 2013 Benefits Distributed
Jackson Co. 115,680 $15,523,075
St. Louis Co. 115,345 $15,486,300
St. Louis City 104,163 $14,721,150
Greene Co. 41,175 $ 5,254,663
Jefferson Co. 26,243 $ 3,406,872
Clay Co. 21,640 $ 2,749,088
Jasper Co. 21,343 $ 2,696,356
St. Charles Co. 20,498 $ 2,714,484
The top eight counties contain 52% of Food Stamp Recipients
The top three contain 37%
KEY FACTS ABOUT HUNGER AND SNAP (FOOD STAMPS) IN MISSOURI
- Food stamp benefits are already being reduced in Missouri in November due to the expiration of funding provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The average benefit in Missouri of $1.40 per person per meal will go down to about $1.30 per person per meal.
- The U.S. Senate has approved a Farm Bill with $4 billion in cuts to SNAP over the next ten years, while the U.S. House has passed a nutrition-only bill (by the narrow margin of 217-210) that cuts SNAP by almost $40 billion over the next ten years. Conventional wisdom says these two actions signal that more SNAP cuts are on their way.
- Extended weeks of unemployment benefits also expire on Dec. 31, and this is apt to send new applicants to our Family Support Division offices looking for SNAP benefits due to loss of income.
- Our food pantries are already reporting record numbers of hungry Missourians approaching them for assistance. Some have instituted new rationing strategies.
- Increasing food insecurity in Missouri is documented in The 2013 Missouri Hunger Atlas, issued by the University of Missouri’s Interdisciplinary Center for Food Security. Read a press release about the study and access the full document at:
In addition to ordering DSS to withdraw their proposed rule change, what else can Gov. Nixon do if he wants to be a leader in the fight against hunger?
- Ask Missouri’s federal delegation (Sen. McCaskill, Sen. Blunt, and our eight Congressional members) to demand a repeal of this cruel and ill-conceived portion of PRWORA.
- Help Missourians understand SNAP and the challenges of hunger by living for a week on $1.30 per meal and then hold a press conference to talk about his experience. (Several Missouri lawmakers, including former U.S. Representative Jo Ann Emerson, have taken the Food Stamp Challenge promoted by the Food Research and Action Center. For more information, see: http://frac.org/initiatives/snapfood-stamp-challenges/.)
No one benefits when a neighbor goes hungry.
Please contact Gov. Nixon today!
The Hunger Task Force educates policy makers and the public about the issue of hunger, provides information and support for current and potential anti-hunger programs, and advocates for policies that would reduce hunger in Missouri.
Every five years Congress reviews, revises and increases the large mix of nutrition, price support, conservation and development programs operated by the United States Department of Agriculture. The resulting massive piece of legislation – the Farm Bill – is a political creature designed (in normal times) to bring together a bi-partisan coalition of urban, suburban and rural interests. The Farm Bill contains something for almost everyone and items easily damned as waste or hypocrisy by many. As a result, for generations, politicians have condemned the bill they pass.
The old farm bill expired on September 30, 2012. An extension passed last year expires on September 30, 2013. The Senate and House have passed very different bills.
Major Farm Bill Components
SNAP (food stamps) & Other Nutrition Programs International Food Assistance
Price Supports/Crop Insurance
Crop & Livestock Research
The total cost of the 2013 – 2018 Farm Bill is expected
to exceed $1 trillion.
Senate Passed Bill
► Cuts SNAP Benefits By $400 Million Per Year
► Reduces Price Supports
► Increases Crop Insurance
► Limits Some Payments To Millionaires
► Promotes Veterinarian Training
House Passed Bill
► SNAP Funding Not Part Of Bill
► Reduces Some Price Supports
► Increases Crop Insurance
► Increases Livestock Disaster Recovery Payments
► Cuts Poultry Inspection Program
► Reduces Funds For Conservation
The Senate and House are negotiating the terms and scope of a conference to work out differences in the two bills. Many House members want to cut SNAP by $2 billion to $3.1 billion per year but they could not pass that proposal. Sen. Claire McCaskill and other Democrats have endorsed the Senate’s SNAP cuts.
“Only an evil genius could have dreamed this up.” Scott Faber, Environmental Working Group
“Right now the federal government favors the big guy over the little guy…It’s an egregious example of cronyism.” Rep. Paul Ryan
Nearly One Person In Six In Missouri Receives Food Stamps Each Month
► 927,927 Missourians received Food Stamps in June 2013
909,139 in June 2010
► In many counties better than one person in four received Food Stamps
DSS FSD MO HealthNet Monthly Management Report 6/13
Every month $120,000,000 in Food Stamps are shared with Missouri families
Most Families Receiving Food Stamps Also Need Pantry Food
► $1.46 Average Missouri Food Stamp Benefit Per Person Per Meal
► $1.80 – $ 2.48 USDA Food Plans Minimum Cost Necessary To Provide Nutritious
Food At Every Meal
USDA Food Plans, 4/13 www.cnpp.usda.gov
More Families Receive Pantry Food Than Receive Food Stamps
► Pantries respond immediately when a family needs help
► Families with seasonal / variable income may only need help for a short time
► Pantries are located in most every community in Missouri
Federal programs distribute more than $20 in food assistance to the hungry for each $1 in food aid shared by pantries, charities and churches.
$23,550 Per Year
Federal Poverty Level For A Family Of Four
Equivalent to fulltime work, with benefits, at $11.32 per hour
Hunger Task Force Chair
Goals for 2014
Education- MASW hunger task force will educate food pantries, other non-profits, and concerned citizens about the importance of increasing the participation rate for the Food Stamp Program.
Advocacy- MASW hunger task force will advocate the Missouri State Legislature on a bill that would modify or opt out of the optional federal law that indefinitely bans food stamp benefits to those convicted of a drug related felony.
MASW will host a Hunger Advocacy Day at the Missouri State Capitol
Research- MASW hunger task force will write the Food Stamp Program report with Legal Services of Eastern Missouri.
Outreach- MASW hunger task force will connect with after school programs across Missouri to educate them about the After School Meal Program, and help them implement the program if they so choose.
Do you know someone in need of food assistance?
If so, contact The National Hunger Hotline:
For more information about the
National Hunger Hotline: Click Here
For more information on hunger in Missouri and across the United States please visit these websites:
Bread for the World
Food Research and Action Center
Share our Strength
MAZON, a Jewish Response to Hunger
United States Department of Agriculture
Interested in participating in the Hunger Task Force? Contact Task Force Chair Glenn Koenen.