Missouri Hunger and Poverty Policy Questions

Please read these questions and let us know what your organization and others in the Show Me State are doing to move legislation and policy in a direction that helps those in need.

Virtually all states have budget deficits and extensive financial problems this year and beyond.  The states are also the custodians and administrators of multi billions of dollars of federal assistance programs. State policies related to hunger and poverty contain a great deal of state money that is in short supply right now but much more federal money that can grow as the use of the programs grows.

These state policy questions are meant to begin a conversation about how states can deliver more services to their citizens who are facing extreme long term unemployment, hunger, home foreclosures and loss of health insurance and pensions. 

Please read them and let us know what your organization and others in your state are doing to move legislation and policy in a direction that helps those in need, especially the poorest of the poor, the millions of new poor, seniors, returning vets, children and the homeless.

Our intention is to create a place on our website that will highlight policy actions that state based organizations are taking and how they are proceeding.  We also hope to host a WhyHunger State Policy Award for the best state policies in the U.S.A.

1) Missouri has a tax rate on food purchases of 1.23%. Most states exempt food from sales tax, is there a plan to eliminate it?
2) Even though Missouri does not tax prescription drug sales, there is still a 4.23% tax on non-prescription drugs, is there a plan to exempt non-prescription drugs as well?
3) Those earning the lowest 20% in income pay 9.6% percent of their income in taxes, while those earning the highest incomes only pay 5.4% of their income in taxes. Is anything being done to lessen the burden of taxes on low-income earners?
4) There is no state EITC program.  Is there any movement in the legislature or among organizations to have one?
5) Though there are many farmers markets (125) and CSAs (62) there is no Seniors Farmer’s Market Program.  Is there a plan to introduce one?  There is a WIC Farmer’s Market Program, but the benefit rate is quite low and below the national average.  Is there any movement to increase the benefit amount for WIC recipients?
6) Missouri has a below average unemployment insurance reception rate as well as a low unemployment insurance average weekly benefit. Is there anything being done to increase unemployment insurance reception or increase the weekly average unemployment insurance benefit?
7) The percentage of jobs paying below the federal poverty line (28.6%) is well above the national average of 22.2%.  Why are so many jobs paying so little?  Is there anything being done to increase wages such as introducing a living wage?
8) Missouri has an extremely high rate of infant mortality (7.5) and percent of its population that is obese (30%). What programs are in place to combat these epidemics?
9) Only 4% of 4 year olds are enrolled in State Pre-K; this is well below the national average of 23%.  Is there a movement to increase participation in State Pre-K?
10) The percent of state budget allocated to corrections is 6.8%, this is above the national average.  Is there anything being done to decrease incarceration such as alternative sentencing for non-violent offenders or implementing programs to reduce recidivism?
11) Missouri leads the nation in percentage of eligible’s participating in the SNAP program. What special features of this program in your state might account for this successful outreach?
12) What other statewide policies or programs are you aware of that are helping to fight hunger and poverty, or are there any that are responsible for increasing it?

Please let us know what your organization and others in your state are doing to move legislation and policy in a direction to address these questions by contacting Executive Director and Co-Founder Bill Ayres at [email protected]

Feel free to inform us of any mistakes we may have made in any of these questions. Also we would appreciate any comments on policies or statistics that might have been overlooked.