Problems with online food assistance applications resolved

Approximately 410,000 Missouri households were enrolled for food stamps benefits in Jan. 2014.

The Missouri Department of Social Services has received feedback from local families and individuals indicating problems with online application processes for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

The program allows eligible households to receive an allotment of food stamp benefits with the intent to “promote the general welfare and safeguard the health and well-being of the nation’s population by raising the levels of nutrition among low-income households,” according to the Missouri Department of Social Services SNAP information page.

Eligibility for the food stamp program SNAP is determined by a number of criteria, including, but not limited to residency, citizenship, household composition, resources under $2,000 ($3,000 if elderly or disabled) and an income beneath 100 percent net and 130 percent gross federal poverty level, according to the Missouri Food Stamps and Temporary Cash Assistance for Needy Families overview.

According to the Department of Social Services’ most recent report, approximately 410,000 Missouri households were enrolled for food stamps benefits as of January 2014 and there has been steady enrollment since January 2009.

Problems with online applications have not lowered the number of eligible households receiving food stamps benefits, rather, they have elongated the processing time for applications to be reviewed, said Becky Woelfel, Department of Social Services Communications director.

“This computer issue has been resolved and we are diligently working to get applications processed as quickly as possible to return to a normal processing time,” she said. “We urge anyone who has encountered an issue with their food stamp application to contact the Family Support Division’s special unit dedicated to resolving those problems by calling 1-573-751-8959 or emailing for special assistance.”

Also working to serve families and individuals in Missouri, The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri provides temporary and supplemental food to those who need it in their 32-county service area, Food Bank Marketing Director Mike DeSantis said. The Food Bank currently feeds over 114,000 people each month with help from 131 partner pantries and 141 schools.

“If you want to help fight hunger directly, you can join one of our congregate agencies,” he said. “It’s eye-opening and something everyone would benefit from.”

Food drives can be organized to raise awareness and collect food that will be distributed to those in need in the city in which the food was donated, DeSantis said. The Food Bank accepts all food with the exception of homemade, canned, damaged or expired products, or those in glass containers.

“If your goal is to provide as much food as possible to as many people as possible, you can donate dollars to The Food Bank, with each dollar translating to 15 pounds of food,” he said. “In Columbia, food donations can be made to any of our 34 Boone County pantries, or directly to the Food Bank at 2101 Vandiver Drive.”

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