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Missouri residents who receive food stamps will continue to get them throughout the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, state officials have announced.

Officials with the Missouri Department of Social Services said the U.S. Department of Agriculture has allowed them to extend the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits certification period for those who were scheduled to be re-certified in March, April or May.

“For the health and well-being of low-income Missourians who rely on food stamp benefits, Missouri sought changes to the administration of the food stamp program in this state to meet the needs of our most vulnerable citizens,” Gov. Mike Parson said in a written statement. “No Missourian will have their food stamp benefits end for the present time, and they do not need to take any actions to ensure their benefits will continue.”

In addition, the department is waiving all work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents through the end the federal declaration of a state of emergency due to the coronavirus.

Benefits through the SNAP program also are being increased during the coronavirus pandemic.

All homes now eligible for the program will receive the maximum amount for the household size. For example, the report said, a household of three will receive $509 per month and a home with four people $646.

According to the report, about 310,000 households in the state, representing about 660,000 people, will benefit from the increase.

In addition, families with children eligible for free or reduced-price school lunches will receive an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card containing a credit for meals missed at school.

The change affects about 400,000 students – about half of the students in the state’s public school system, according to the report.

Any low-income person who needs food stamps or other benefits may find application information at mydss.mo.gov.

Call center extends hours

In addition, the Family Support Division Call Center has expanded its hours to help with an increased demand for services due to the pandemic. The call center will temporarily be open seven days a week “to handle the growing influx of calls from low-income Missourians who need services,” the agency announced.

The expanded hours went into effect Saturday (March 28), so the call center is now open from 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays; and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays.

“Many Missourians are turning to the Family Support Division for the very first time in their life and need information and guidance on how DSS helps low-income families,” said Jennifer Tidball, acting director of the Department of Social Services. “The fastest way to find basic information about food stamp, Medicaid, temporary assistance for needy families, and child-care subsidy benefits and who may qualify is to visit the DSS website at dss.mo.gov.

Applicants may apply for services any time by filling out an application form online or downloading and sending a completed application and the necessary documents by email to FSD.Documents@dss.mo.gov or by fax to 573-526-9400. Missourians who have questions or need assistance may call 855-FSD-INFO or 855-373-4636.

Information regarding the department’s response to the pandemic is available online dss.mo.gov/covid-19.

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