Missouri judge denies state’s request to dismiss federal SNAP lawsuit

The following excerpts were reprinted from Missouri Independent. Read the the full article. This article was also reposted in Fulton Sun.

Mary Holmes says she subsisted on hardly any food for over a month as she struggled to recertify her eligibility for federal food assistance earlier this year.

She spent hours on the phone trying to speak to someone at Missouri’s Department of Social Services (DSS) for her mandatory interview, as her prepaid phone minutes dwindled. With no internet access, disabled and lacking transportation, she ultimately paid $10 to a relative to drive her to a DSS office.

But Holmes was told “they were not doing interviews that day” and someone would be in touch. A few days later, she answered a call from DSS’s automatic dialer. The dialer is supposed to connect applicants who pick up to interviewers, but Holmes instead found herself in a familiar limbo. She was told she was number 692 in the queue, as if she had been the one to place the call.

She waited for four hours and still did not reach a representative.

Holmes’s saga attempting to regain eligibility for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits is laid out in a lawsuit filed earlier this year in federal court. The state tried to get the case dismissed, arguing it was moot since Holmes and the other plaintiff — listed in the lawsuit as “L. V.” — were eventually able to receive benefits.

But U.S. District Court Judge M. Douglas Harpool ruled last week that the lawsuit would move forward.

“Both plaintiffs are disabled and not able to work. They expect to need SNAP to meet their nutritional needs in the future,” Katharine Deabler-Meadows, staff attorney with National Center for Law and Economic Justice, said in an interview. “They’ll have to recertify their eligibility, so they’ll have to navigate it again.”