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Missouri expands food stamp program in response to coronavirus

Missouri expands food stamp program in response to coronavirus

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Operation Food Search nourishes healthy starts

"At that time I did not have a car. It was hard just getting to work, adding on grocery shopping on top of that would have been impossible. I am so thankful they delivered food to my house and healthy food, too. It's hard to eat healthy on food stamps," said Shawna Foster of Troy, who samples the new meal kits with her son Rylee, 3, during Operation Food Search's one year anniversary celebration of its Rx: Nourishing Healthy Starts program on Friday, Dec. 13, 2019. Photo by Laurie Skrivan, lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

JEFFERSON CITY — Food stamp benefits in Missouri will not be canceled for at least six months as part of the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In an announcement Tuesday by the Missouri Department of Social Services, officials said they had received a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to extend the certification period for SNAP benefits for low-income Missourians who were scheduled to be re-certified in March, April or May.

“This action prevents Food Stamp benefits from ending during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the agency said.

In addition, the department has waived all work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents through the end of the federal emergency COVID-19 declaration.

“For the health and well-being of low-income Missourians who rely on Food Stamp benefits, Missouri sought changes to the administration of the Food Stamp program in this state to meet the needs of our most vulnerable citizens,” Gov. Mike Parson said in a statement. “No Missourian will have their Food Stamp benefits end for the present time, and they do not need to take any actions to ensure their benefits will continue.”

Food stamp benefits also are being boosted during the pandemic. All households currently eligible for the program will receive the maximum amount for the household size. For example, a household of four will receive the full allotment of $646.

The department said the increase will affect 310,000 households in the state, representing about 660,000 people.

In addition, families with children eligible for free or reduced-price lunch in all Missouri school districts will receive an electronic benefit transfer card containing money for the value of the meals missed at school.

The change affects about 400,000 school students.

“Every Missourian must have access to food and the Department of Social Services has taken these actions so that low-income individuals and families have what they need to make it through this critical time,” said Jennifer Tidball, acting director of the Department of Social Services. “Our most vulnerable citizens in Missouri must have essential needs met to ensure they can cope with the impact of COVID-19.” 

• Read about retail stores in the region that are cutting hours or closing due to the coronavirus.

• Read the list of area restaurants that are closing, switching to carryout or otherwise adjusting due to the coronavirus.

• Area events canceled or postponed

• Read the list of canceled sports events.

• COVID-19 cases in Missouri by county

• COVID-19 cases in the United States

• CDC fact sheet: Prevention and treatment

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