Food stamps could be allowed at some Missouri restaurants. By the minimum number of votes required to pass, the Missouri Senate has endorsed a bill that would let the elderly, disabled and homeless use their SNAP benefits at some restaurants.
Republican Senators clashed over the bill, including whether the plan helps the most vulnerable – or if it leads to further abuse of the system.
State Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, R-Parkville, said the state should be helping disabled veterans, for instance.
“If a veteran who has actually put his or her life on the line and is disabled, they should surely have the right to decide whether they want to go to McDonald’s or whether they want to go to Walmart. I think they’ve earned that right,” he said.
According to Luetkemeyer, the legislation would not expand welfare benefits by a single cent.
State Sen. Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg, is not on board with the bill. He referred to the effort as “Lobster food stamps” and “Big Mac welfare”.
“We’ve got a Subway up here,” said Hoskins. “It’s probably about 10 bucks for a sandwich, for a footlong sandwich now. Or 10 bucks at a grocery store, you could buy probably a whole pound of meat, a whole loaf of bread, and condiments for $10. That would feed you for several days, and not just one day.”
State Sen. Rick Brattin, R-Harrisonville, said the legislation would give low-income people less bang for their buck if they go to a restaurant instead of a grocery store.
“To ensure that more poor choices are able to be made – more poor food items are able to be purchased with it is the answer – that’s absurd on every level,” he said. “This is not an expansion of your Christian duty. This is not living out your faith by other people’s means. That’s what I feel that people think that they’re doing with this. I ask you to go read your Bible. If you think that expanding this is fulfilling your Christian duty, you are sadly mistaken.”
He said the safety net programs like SNAP are there to help but he believes they “exacerbate the problem.” He said they “keep people trapped in it.”
Senate Bill 798 is sponsored by state Sen. Angela Mosely, D-St. Louis County. She disagrees with Brattin’s comment.
“It was very offensive to anyone that is on the SNAP program,” she told Missourinet. “People don’t want to be on the SNAP program. They are on it because they have to be on it. Leave politics out of it.”
Senate President Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, voted in favor of the bill.
“Those individuals that need this program or need this opportunity to be able to get a hot meal, I’ve never had to walk in their shoes. Everyone’s situation is different,” said Schatz. “I just want to make sure that we don’t lose sight of the fact that there are people that can benefit from this. And yes, there will be abusers of this process. If we could do away with all the abusers, it’d be great. But I also don’t want to lump in the people that really need and could use a hot meal because of the bad abusers.”
State Sen. Bill White, R-Joplin, said lawmakers should put themselves in these people’s shoes.
“Homeless people don’t have refrigerators,” said White. “They don’t have stoves. The people that I eat with at the senior center, the people that can’t get to the senior center that do Meals on Wheels, they can’t cook. People that are disabled or maybe developmentally disabled, they cannot prepare for themselves. It is dangerous for them.”
With two weeks left in this legislative session, the measure heads to the Missouri House.
Copyright © 2022 · Missourinet