Food Stamps 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.

Benefit Summaries

 

Oct. 2013                                Oct. 2012

Temporary Assistance           89,439             Total               102,853

Persons

59,518             Total Kids        67,908

$7.97 million  Total               $9.27

Payments

$228.36           Average           $232.15

Per family

 

MO HealthNet                        857,557           Enrolled          883,656

 

902,353           Total               925,667

Served

$572,499,566                          $654,933,391

 

$634.45           Per Person      $707.53

 

$199.60           Managed        $188.57

Care Per Person

 

Oct. 2013                    Oct. 2012                    Oct. 2011                    Oct. 2010

Food Stamps

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%

www.dss.mo.gov/re

Posted in Food Security.