NewsLocal News


Lawsuit questions policies, practices of Missouri SNAP program

Governors plead for food stamp flexibility amid pandemic
Posted at 9:14 PM, Feb 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-22 22:14:30-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Two Missourians have filed a federal lawsuit against Robert Knodell, in his official capacity as the acting director of the Missouri Department of Social Services.

The department is responsible for administering the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) benefits program.

In a 50-page lawsuit, it accuses the MDSS of having “policies and practices that deprive eligible households, including persons with disabilities, of access to critically needed, subsistence level Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”) benefits.”

The case was filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri.

Mary Holmes of St. Louis, Missouri, L.V. of Warren County, Missouri, and Empower Missouri are listed as the plaintiffs in the suit.

In the lawsuit, it criticizes the three step process of applying for the SNAP program.

This includes filling out an application, completing an interview and submitting required verification.

The lawsuit lists several different examples of why the plaintiffs believe process is flawed.

One of those includes the process of completing an interview.

The MDSS conducts them over phone through a call center, which the suit calls "dysfunctional."

"Wait times are extraordinarily long, and the call center frequently deflects calls," the lawsuit states. "Once a SNAP application is filed on paper or electronically, the applicant must complete an interview via the call center."

Holmes has been waiting for an interview for over a month, but because of the policies in place she has been unable to do so and therefore hasn't received benefits, according to the suit.

Similarly, L.V. has also been unable to conduct an interview because of the same reasons.

Among several other things, Holmes and L.V. are asking to be granted an interview within three work days and allow them to submit proper verification.

It also asks for the state to "adopt, implement, and monitor statewide and systemic policies and procedures," to ensure the process for applying is easier.