A 1996 federal waiver gives able-bodied, unemployed adults without dependents access to the federal food stamp program without meeting work requirements
But the Missouri Department of Social Services proposed letting that waiver expire.
Under DSS’s proposed changes, waivers on work requirements would only apply to counties where unemployment is higher than 10 percent. In those counties, an adult currently receiving benefits would have three months to either find a job working at least 20 hours a week or enroll in a federally approved job training program. Without that, people would no longer qualify for food stamps
Adults in counties with unemployment rates lower than 10 percent could get food stamps three months out of every three years.
Nixon’s administration previously pursued changing eligibility effective Oct. 1. When called Tuesday, the governor’s office refused to comment.
DSS did not immediately respond to calls Tuesday.
Sen. Will Kraus, R-Jackson County, said Tuesday the economy is improving and the temporary waiver is no longer necessary.
“I believe everyone has the ability to get the food that they need,” Kraus said. “We have these programs out there that are safety nets, food stamps and other programs, that allow people to get food in their times of need.”
But Missouri Food Bank Association Director Scott Baker sees a different side of the story.
“There are more and more people going to food pantries in the state of Missouri,” Baker said. “That doesn’t speak to any kind of improvement in the economy as far as I can tell.”
The Missouri Association for Social Welfare’s Director Jeanette Mott Oxford said the proposed change wouldn't give people incentive to find work.
"Making people hungry does nothing to actually improve our economy in any way,” Oxford said. “Hunger is actually a debilitator rather than a motivator when it comes to employment.”
The AP reported 58,000 able-bodied adults without dependents currently receive federal food stamp benefits in Missouri. These recipients do not qualify for food stamps under the proposed change.