The number of hungry people in Missouri increases

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COLUMBIA - A Gallup survey found that the number of Americans experiencing food hardship has seen a decrease except in Missouri and three other states.

The study found that in 2014, 16.6 percent of Missourians struggled with little food. This year 17.3 percent of those surveyed said they struggled to afford enough food.

This breakdown means 30,000 additional Missourians are food insecure just half way through the year.

Empower Missouri, an organization that strives to improve living conditions by changing policies analyzes four factors that contribute to the recent study. 

1. The reorganization of Family Support Division that handles Food Stamps has caused some confusion for thousands of Missouri families.

2. There isn't enough full time jobs with competitive wages to lift low-income families out of poverty.

3. Food Pantries have had to support thousands of Americans that were not aided by Food Stamps making it difficult to aid every poverty stricken family.

4. Some policy changes affect poverty stricken families.

  • Those committed of drug felonies were once not able to apply for Food Stamps after serving their sentence. Empower Missouri and Second Chance Coalition won an appeal for this in 2014. 
  •  Senate Bill 24 in 2015 shortened the time for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, imposes full family sanctions if parents do not meet work requirements, and prohibits Missouri to aid unemployed childless adults in times of high unemployment.
  •  House Bill 722, vetoed by Gov. Nixon in 2015, prevents local governments from passing ordinances to change the minimum wage or employment benefits.

Executive Director of Empower Missouri Jeanette Mott Oxford said she wants to expand to reach more poverty stricken areas by the end of this year. 

"This year, Missouri passed senate bill 24, a welfare reform bill that we opposed and fought hard against," Oxford said.  "It does at least three things. Number one it will probably increase hunger and poverty in our state."