Food stamp (SNAP) benefits state that if you are an able-bodied adult with no dependents, you are eligible for three months of food stamps out of a 36-month cycle, if you work 80 hours a month.
When the Great Recession hit, states were able to apply for a waiver lifting the three-month minimum and work requirement. In August 2015, Missouri state senators passed a bill removing that waiver.
Now, 30,000 users in the state who have been on food stamps since January 1 will hit their three-month limit April 1, and those who do not meet the work requirements are no longer eligible to apply.
"Essentially, the benefits for these able-bodied adults without dependents is only about $150 to $170 a month you are taking money away and somewhere they are going to have to look for new food sources and a lot of times that falls on the backs of charities," said St. Louis Area Food Bank communications director Ryan Farmer.
The St. Louis Area Food Bank provides food to 500 soup kitchens and charities in the area.
Farmer said this will add pressure to soup kitchens and they are always looking for ways to keep their food stocked with food.
"Hunger is not something that you see on people’s faces all the time,” Farmer said. “It is not like in third world counties where you see kids walking around with bloated bellies, but there really is a problem in this country of people not making enough to feed themselves and their families.”
More than his worry about how to keep the food bank's shelves stock, Farmer is concerned with how this bill will affect people who are already struggling.
"I hear people say, ‘Oh, you are enabling people by giving them food,’ and I say, ‘Please come out with me on the days that the food pantries are open’ and see people lined up an hour to an hour in a half before the pantry even opens because they want to make sure they get something, sometimes even holding their child because they can’t afford childcare to take them somewhere and tell me that they want to be there," Famer said.
Based on the way the bill is written, Missouri is no longer eligible to reapply for that food stamp waiver in the future.