Mo. Lawmakers React to Food Stamp Spending Out of State
JEFFERSON CITY - Lawmakers on Tuesday reacted to a story KOMU-TV aired Monday on out-of-state food stamp spending. Data from the Missouri Department of Social Services shows nearly $46 million of food stamp money for Missourians left the state in fiscal year 2011.
The out-of-state spending included millions in border states such as Arkansas at $5.5 million, Illinois at $8.5 million, and Kansas at $13.5 million. But spending also included some exotic destinations -- more than $27,000 in Alaska and $40,000 in Hawaii.
"Folks do have the right to take that money and spend it wherever they need it, even if it's outside the state," said Rep. Jeanne Kirkton, D-Webster Groves.
"A lot of big companies like Walmart take the food stamp receipts and aggragate it all at their corporate headquarters, so that could explain some of the out-of-state numbers," said Rep. Tom Flanigan, R-Carthage. "But there's no way to elimate all fraud."
As of November 2011, more than 440,000 Missourians received help from food stamps for their grocery bills. In FY2011, the state doled out $1.4 billion in federal food stamp money.