Missouri families struggling to receive food assistance

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COLUMBIA - Some Missourians have had trouble getting signed up for low income food assistance because of issues within the Missouri Department of Social Services. 

Missouri Department of Social Services spokesperson Rebecca Woelfel wrote in an email a computer system issue slowed processing time for several food stamp applications.

"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," Woelfel said.

Missouri Hunger Task Force Chairman Glenn Koenen said computer issues are one of a few problems preventing Missourians from receiving the aid they need. Koenen said 90,000 fewer Missourians get food stamps this year compared to 2013.

"They are changing the computer systems they use, the procedures they use, and they are also drastically reducing the number of staff people who are there to help people get assistance," Koenen said. "The end result is it's like trying to catch up with a moving car."

Peggy Kirkpatrick, Executive Director of the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri, said government food assistance has become harder to obtain since the recession in 2008.  She said part of the difficulty for people seeking assistance comes from government cuts.

"There's two sides to that story: It's getting more difficult to get food stamps, but it's really focused on those who are marginally qualified to begin with," Kirkpatrick said.

Woelfel said the Department of Social Services apologizes for the issues and asks people who have had trouble with the program to contact the Family Support Divisions special unit to call 1-573-751-8959 or email FSD.CRU@dss.mo.gov for special assistance.

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