Missouri sued after woman loses SNAP benefits due to long wait times at ‘overloaded’ call center

Published: Feb. 23, 2022 at 6:41 AM CST
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - The state of Missouri is being sued for depriving residents of SNAP benefits, a program that helps residents get food monthly.

The lawsuit alleges applicants are routed through a call center, that is understaffed, to complete interviews for their benefits. Many applicants allegedly waited for hours on hold only to be disconnected before someone answered.

St. Louis resident Mary Holmes, 55, said she tried calling multiple times to renew her benefits, but nobody answered. She doesn’t have a car or internet access so she relies on calling the department for help. During one call, the automated system said there were 468 people ahead of her in line.

“I waited for approximately an hour and a half, and then I hung up because I was almost out of pre-paid phone minutes,” Holmes said. I received a notice that my SNAP application was denied in February. Not having SNAP has been really hard. I hardly have any food to eat.”

According to the lawsuit, more than 50 percent of rejected applications in recent months were because applicants couldn’t complete an interview.

“Hundreds of thousands of Missourians rely on SNAP to feed their families every month.  It is inexcusable that individuals who are struggling to make ends meet face additional barriers enrolling in SNAP because of Missouri’s Department of Social Services. It is imperative that DSS ensures that all Missouri families have access to the nutrition they need,” Attorney Andrew Scavotto of Stinson LLP said.

News 4 has reached out to the state for a response.

We plan to reach out to the state today to get a response - and to find out what’s being done to fix these issues.