December 8, 2013
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%
We are delighted to receive this word from the Governor’s Office today:
Many of you called, emailed, snail-mailed, or visited the governor about the proposed rule change. Your advocacy made an important difference. Thank you for speaking up to stop an increase in hunger in our already very “food insecure” state.
When an elected official takes the desired action, it’s important to say thanks. Here’s how to reach Governor Nixon’s office with your messages of appreciation for this decision:
To write or visit: The Honorable Jay Nixon, Governor
State Capitol Building, Room 216
Jefferson City, MO 65101
E-mails may be sent through: http://governor.mo.gov/share/idea.php
Phone calls: 573-751-3222
Now let’s call our U.S. senators and Congressional members to say: We need a Farm Bill that has no SNAP cuts!
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
Hunger & Poverty Related Missouri Legislation
May 6, 2013
HB = House Bill
SB = Senate Bill
HCS = House Committee Substitute
SCS = Senate Committee Substitute
SJR = Senate Joint Resolution
SS= Senate Floor Substitute
FOOD STAMPS FOR ALL
SB 346 Shalonn “Kiki” Curls (D- Kansas City) – Not a majority party bill, but the Senate Government Accountability and Fiscal Oversight Committee voted Do Pass on SB 346 thanks to our advocacy! The House version, HB 838 (from Paul Wieland, R-Imperial, a majority party sponsor) has also passed out of committee. This proposal – favored by MASW – would allow those convicted of drug offenses, who have complied with treatment and other provisions, to receive food stamps.
Please contact senators asking them to Perfect and pass this bill on to the House. Both sponsors are also looking for additional legislative vehicles on which these bills could be amended.
FOOD STAMP & TEMPORARY ASSISTANCE RESTRICTIONS
HCS HB 455 & HB 297 Andrew Koenig (R – Manchester) [HB 297 by Keith English (D – Florissant)]
This proposal would force the Department of Social Services to seek a waiver from the federal government to put photos on EBT cards for food stamp accounts. The state would have to provide a card with photo to each member in a household age 16 or older. Rep. English told KMOV-TV this move would only cost $100,000 the first year and $20,000 per year thereafter but would save “hundreds of thousands of dollars.” We disagree. When the cost of staff time, postage and other direct and indirect expenses are attributed to the photo cards, that price is substantially higher. The value of the ‘prevented fraud’ is hard to calculate – many actions described by legislators as “fraud” are actually legal and reasonable (like driving across a state line to buy a product if it will save your family money). We doubt that true savings will be as great as the photo card expense.
This bill passed with 120 votes. It has been referred to the Senate Government Accountability and Fiscal Oversight Committee.
HCS HB 343 Casey Guernsey (R-Bethany)
This collection of punitive and unenforceable rules passed the House with 112 votes – three votes more than needed for a veto override. The bill is now in the Senate: friendly senators do not think they can stop it. The Fiscal Note on this bill warns that it could cost Missouri more than $3.5 billion per year in federal funds for the Medicaid program. The director of the Department of Social Services has told the legislature that the federal government will not approve the numerous waivers to allow this bill to take effect.
The bill is now before the Senate Government Accountability and Fiscal Oversight Committee. It could get a Senate hearing this week. Advocates will be needed to contact state Senators to educate them on the potential cost of this bill.
HB 1040 Steven Cookson (R – Poplar Bluff)
“School age children of welfare recipients must attend public school, unless physically disabled, at least ninety percent of the time in order to receive benefits.” The Kansas City Star and other media have called this proposal ‘mean.’ This approach has not proven to improve school attendance in other states. Anything that makes a desperately poor family more poor actually works against school attendance (by causing evictions, utility disconnection, etc.).
HB 801 Jay Barnes (R – Jefferson City)
Every person covered by MO HealthNet who is convicted of a drug related crime must go to drug treatment if they want to still have medical coverage. This would require a federal waiver.
This bill has been assigned to the Government Oversight Committee chaired by Rep. Barnes.
SB 128 David Sater (R – Barry Co.)
This bill would restrict food stamp use to a list of ‘healthy’ foods, similar to the WIC program: it conflicts with federal regulations. It is opposed by the grocers and other retail associations.
This bill was heard by the Senate Government Accountability & Fiscal Oversight Committee on 3/27.
SB 251 Will Kraus (R – Jackson Co) [Co-sponsor Maria Chappelle-Nadal (D – St Louis Co)]
This bill requires DSS to staff a hotline to take anonymous reports of “suspected public assistance fraud.” Those convicted of fraud would serve 120 days or more in jail unless they make full restitution to the state. This bill caused a stir because of a sensational and erroneous headline and AP article – stating that food stamp benefits could be converted to cash by using an EBT card at an ATM machine.
The Senate amended and passed this bill. It will be heard in the House Government Oversight and Accountability Committee on April 29.
HB 700 Jay Barnes (R – Jefferson City)
The bill to ‘transform’ Medicaid would limit coverage to those with incomes at or below 100% of the poverty level. While some additional families would gain coverage, the net effect could be to have fewer families (and children) covered than are currently enrolled. The proposal would require federal waivers. The revised Medicaid system would not qualify for additional funding from Washington. The Senate leadership said they do not see the bill passing this year. MASW members should continue to push for Medicaid expansion! If we do not win it by May 17, we must demand a Special Session and passage of this win-win-win opportunity for our state.
The House Rules Committee is reviewing the bill.
HB 926 Sue Allen (R – Manchester)
This pair of bills would shift many elderly and disabled patients on MO HealthNet into private prepaid pharmacy and private Managed Care programs. This could cost as much as $26 million in General Revenue.
The Special Standing Committee on Emerging Issues in Health Care heard this bill on 4/17.
HCS HB 536 Burlison
This bill radically reduces the Missouri income tax paid by many business owners. The adjusted gross income subject to Missouri income tax would be reduced by up to 50% (by January 2017). Corporate tax burdens would also be reduced.
The Ways and Means Committee voted “Do Pass” on 3/12.
HB 895 Jeremy LaFaver (D – Kansas City) Not A Majority Bill
This bill would create a Missouri Earned Income Credit equal to 20% of a taxpayer’s federal EIC.
HB 917 Burlison
This bill would allow Missouri taxpayers to exclude 50% of capital gains income from their state taxable income: it would dramatically favor the richest of the rich taxpayers and cause a loss of up to $104 million in revenue.
This bill had a hearing in the House Ways and Means Committee on 4/16. It is expected to be considered in executive session this week.
HCS SS#2 SCS SBs 26, 11 & 31 Will Kraus (R – Jackson Co.)
This bill would reduce the state income tax, replacing some of the lost revenue with an increase in the general state sales tax. The corporate tax rate would also go down, and, business owners would be able to deduct up to 50% of their income from their Missouri income tax calculations. Taxpaying families with an income of less than $20,000 per year would get a new $2,000 income deduction. The House made changes, most notably only allowing some provisions for tax cuts to apply if the state’s revenue increases by $100 million a year. (This bill is seen by many legislators as a necessary reaction to tax cutting efforts in Kansas.) This bill would shift more of the tax burden to working families, especially working poor families. According to the Missouri Budget Project, it is expected to result in a net loss of up to $900 million a year for Missouri.
The House sent the bill, with new amendments, back to the Senate. It could be considered by the Senate this week, so ask your Senate members to vote no. If the bill is Truly Agreed and Finally Passed and goes to the governor’s desk, Gov. Nixon should be encouraged to veto this bill. Watch for updates from MASW in these final days of Legislative Session.
SJR 16 Mike Kehoe (R – Cole Co)
This bill would – upon a public vote – create a new 1% sales tax for 10 years for transportation projects.
This bill has been passed by the Senate. The House Rules Committee voted “Do Pass” on 4/16. The proposal may appear on the ballot in 2014, but there is still internal majority party controversy about this bill, so it’s outcome is uncertain. (The Governor does not get to sign or veto Joint Resolutions.)
UTILITY COST RECOVERY
HCS HB 398 Jeanie Riddle (R – Mokane)
This bill would allow electric utilities to raise their rates, with less Public Service Commission review, to cover infrastructure improvements. MASW is among the groups warning that this proposal could result in significant annual increases in charges to ratepayers without traditional Public Service Commission review.
The Rules Committee voted “Do Pass” on the bill on 4/4. It may come to the House floor for Perfection at any time. Encourage your House member to vote no.
SCS SB 207 Mike Kehoe (R – Cole Co)
As seen on TV (and the Senate companion piece to HB 398 above): This bill would allow electric utilities to add surcharges to customer bills for infrastructure costs without going through the traditional rate change process before the Public Service Commission. There is great concern that this approach could cause bills to rise without adequate oversight. Supporters still have television commercials on this issue running on mid-Missouri stations. MASW has testified about its concerns with this bill and HB 398 and co-sponsored a forum on this topic with the Consumers Council of MO and AARP on 3/29.
The Public Service Commission stated that this bill “would remove a large component of cost analysis in the determination of just and reasonable rates. This is not to suggest the Commission would be unable to review these costs at all…Instead, the ISRS-related [infrastructure] costs would largely be subject to a mathematical review for accuracy.”
This bill is scheduled for Perfection in the Senate this week: Please contact your Senator urging a no vote.
Goals for 2013
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.