The following Q&A information was presented on September 23rd, 2020 on AARP Missouri’s Facebook page via a facebook live event focused on helping Missourians access resources available to them. Check out this useful content from Melanie Hickox, Feeding Missouri’s SNAP Coordinator.
Q: But first, Melanie, can you tell us a little more about Feeding Missouri?
A: Feeding Missouri is a coalition of the six food banks across the state of Missouri. We work with all 114 counties and the city of STL. Our mission is to educate, advocate and develop resources for MO food banks to end hunger in our state. (Central & NorthWest, Harvesters, St. Louis Area Foodbank, Southeast MO, Ozarks, Second Harvest). We also work in disaster preparedness and relief; we’ve been working closely with the National Guard during COVID 19. This has been a critical partnership and resource for our food banks. We are a member of Feeding America, a national organization that works with over 200 food banks.
Harvesters, the food bank we have here in Kansas City, but how does that connection work? I may ask some supplemental questions if it’s not part of your explanation: (non-profit, food bank vs. food pantry, numbers served, pounds of food/veg, etc.) Harvesters is one of our partner food banks, along with the other five, that make up Feeding Missouri. Feeding Missouri is a 501C3 non-profit organization whose Board is comprised of the food bank CEO’s.
Q: How is it funded?
A: We are funded by donations, grants, and reimbursement contracts with the State (DSS).
Q: How is a food bank different from a food pantry?
A: A food bank is the warehouse for millions of pounds of food and other products that go out to the community. A food pantry is an individual site that distributes food directly to those in need who reside in a specified area. A food pantry is a member agency of, and obtains food from, a food bank. Both food pantries and food banks share the same commitment: to provide food to those in need.
Q: How many people do you serve?
A: Collectively, the food banks feed over a million Missourians and distributes over 120 million pounds of food annually.
Q: I’m sure the pandemic has increased the asks of Feeding Missouri, but just how much has this impacted food security of people in Missouri?
A: Food Pantry demands have skyrocketed recently, with hundreds of thousands more visits & millions more pounds of food distributed throughout the state.
Q: A lot of older Missourians who depended on low-cost, nutritious meals at senior centers are now not able to come together in most places—has that increased demand at food pantries and therefore food banks?
A: Yes, due to the restrictions of COVID-19 more individuals are having to utilize food pantries to supplement meals. While many senior centers are closed, several are still serving food.
Q: What about Meals on Wheels—that can be a lifeline for some older Missourians—are they still able to deliver meals?
A: Yes, Meals on Wheels is still operating and delivering meals. With the help of their many volunteer drivers, they are able to provide a hot, nutritious meal to those with limited mobility.
Q: If an older Missourian isn’t getting a meal from a senior center or Meals on Wheels, SNAP is an option, right?
A: Absolutely. The program is especially important in helping low-income older adults afford nutritious food so they can stay as healthy as possible. With financial assistance (SNAP), seniors won’t be forced to make dangerous trade-offs like skipping meals or skipping medication. Which happens all too frequently unfortunately.
Q: Can you share with everyone exactly what SNAP is and how it works? Is it the same as ‘food stamps’?
A: SNAP or (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) is the name that replaced food stamps. SNAP is a federal program that helps millions of low-income Americans put food on the table. SNAP provides benefits to eligible individuals and families via an Electronic Benefits Transfer card. This card can be used like a debit card to purchase eligible food in authorized retail food stores.
Q: What are the eligibility requirements for SNAP? So, it’s not based on age at all—just income?
SNAP is based on household size, income, assets, and deductions.
People who are 60 years of age or older or who are disabled (generally those who receive SSI or SSDI) need only meet the net income limit – household income after deductions are applied, must be at or below the poverty line.
People under 60 have to meet the Gross Income requirements as well. Net income, or
Assets must fall below certain limits: households with an elderly member or has a disability must have assets of $3,500 or less.
Q: How do people apply?
A: People can contact one of our six food banks and they will be assisted over the phone. Toll free: 877.653.9522 or 573-355-1204. Another option is checking if SNAP assistance is available at their local food pantry or agency. They can go to the DSS website at apps.dss.mo.gov
Q: How long does it take to get SNAP?
A: It can take 5-7 days for emergency SNAP benefits based on if you qualify, but it may take up to 30 days.
Q: From AARP’s work with grandparents raising grandchildren, I knew a little about SNAP, but I feel like I know a lot more now! One thing I saw working with grandparents was just how reluctant they were to use benefits like SNAP—what can we say to those people who see SNAP as charity or a handout?
A: Correcting myths and misconceptions about the program. Educate about how the program works. People have been paying in for these benefits, there is no reason why they shouldn’t utilize SNAP when extra help is needed.
Q: I know a lot of older people (and quite a few younger folks too) do not want to go into grocery stores or may have health factors that make it risky during the pandemic. Did I read somewhere that SNAP can be used with some online grocery stores—how does that work?
A: Yes, SNAP can be used to purchase groceries at certain stores. As far as the process, people can go online and use their EBT (SNAP) card at Amazon, Walmart and some Hy-Vee locations (check first).
Q: What about the grocery stores that you order from online and then they offer no-touch pickup and you drive up and they put it in your trunk?
A: Walmart and Hy-Vee have the option of no-touch pickup. SNAP does not pay for delivery fees.
Q: Because of the pandemic, I’m sure there are people who have never needed food assistance before that now need help. That’s got to be a tough step to take. Can you share some of the ways SNAP (or Feeding Missouri) can be a lifeline for real people? (real life story/stories to illustrate helping kids, seniors, families, veterans, etc.)
A: It’s very hard for people to admit they need help. I spoke to senior recently that ran a small trucking company. The pandemic shut his operation down and he was still waiting for unemployment. He was having to borrow from family. This was the first time he had applied for food stamps and was apprehensive. I explained that the program is here for people who are having a hard time and need some extra help. Receiving SNAP would help alleviate some of the pressure.
Q: Asking for help is a hard choice to make, do you find people are struggling with more than food?
A: Definitely. Many people who are struggling with hunger and struggling in other areas of their life. Job loss, paying for housing and homelessness, health concerns, and disabilities.
Q: I’ve got Feeding Missouri’s website on our screen now, but where else can people go to get help?
A: People can go to their local food bank websites. They can also utilize 211-United Way for assistance in a wide variety of areas.
Q: It looks like we’re just about out of time, so Melanie, any final thoughts about what people in our community need to know about Feeding Missouri ?
A: Food banks cannot feed hungry Missourians without your help. There are three ways to help, give money, give food and educate others about food insecurity. You can also contact your legislators to help advocate for SNAP.
If you have questions regarding the SNAP program, how to apply, if you qualify, etc. don’t hesitate to reach out to Melanie, our SNAP Coordinator! You can email her here.
More information on the SNAP program can be found here.