Missouri Case Moves Forward to Secure Access to SNAP Food Benefits


Contact: Zavé Martohardjono | martohardjono@nclej.org 

For years, Missourians have faced problems and been wrongfully rejected when applying for SNAP benefits because of difficulties navigating the state’s Department of Social Services’ application process. Missourians—especially people with disabilities—are getting rejected at alarming rates when applying for SNAP benefits. 

The National Center for Law and Economic Justice (NCLEJ), Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, and Stinson LLP filed a lawsuit in February 2022 seeking to ensure access to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for Missourians. The case was filed on behalf of Empower Missouri and two low-income individuals against Robert Knodell, the Acting Director of the state’s Department of Social Services.  

On July 11, a judge denied a motion to dismiss filed by the defendant. This allows the case to now move forward. 

“From long waits and dropped calls at DSS’s call center to lack of accommodations for people with disabilities, access to SNAP in Missouri has been subject to unacceptable hurdles,” said Katharine Deabler-Meadows, an attorney at NCLEJ. “And it’s only gotten harder in the pandemic for applicants trying to get food. This is especially terrible given that we are in a national hunger crisis.” 

In September, October, and December of 2021, more than 50% of rejected applications were denied because applicants could not complete an interview.  

While two plaintiffs on the case have seen progress, receiving interviews that enabled access to monthly SNAP benefits, thousands of eligible households remain unlawfully deprived of essential food.