Empower Missouri | St. Louis Public Radio

Empower Missouri

Close to 740,000 Missourians used the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program on a monthly basis in 2018, according to the Food Research and Action Center.
Flickr | The Consumerist .

There are hundreds of thousands of Missouri families that don’t know where their next meal is coming from. 

Despite progress, the state is still higher than the national average for food insecurity. 

A recent report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows Missouri has improved hunger levels throughout the state. Compared to one year ago, levels are down almost one full percentage point. However, 11.7% is the national average of food insecurity, and Missouri sits at 12%

Patrick Strattner | Getty Images

For Missouri families needing government assistance to pay for food, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is a necessity. But it’s not always enough.

Empower Missouri's #MOSNAPChallenge campaign invites state and federal legislators to shop for a three-day supply of food for a family of four using only the average amount of money available to families enrolled in the program. That’s just $1.33 per person per meal for a family of four, according to the Missouri Department of Social Services.

On Wednesday's St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske delved into the nonprofit organization’s campaign and discussed various legislative efforts aimed at increasing SNAP benefits, such as the Closing the Meal Gap Act of 2019

Sen. Karla May, D-St. Louis, reacts to the annual Vehicle Stops Report at Second Presbyterian Church on June 3, 2019.  She wants Missouri law enforcement officers to be held accountable for discriminatory practices during traffic stops against blacks.
File photo I Andrea Henderson | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 10:30 a.m., June 10, with comment from the Missouri Sheriffs' Association – In response to the Missouri Attorney General’s Vehicle Stops Report released on Friday, local groups and politicians are calling for accountability from Missouri law enforcement officers.

Leaders reacted to the release of the annual report on Monday morning at Second Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, just three days after the report cited that black motorists of the driving-age population are stopped and searched at far higher rates than any other race.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

More than half of Missouri’s poorest residents are paying more than half of their yearly income in rent. Non-profit leaders at two Missouri organizations say this level of rent burden prevents families from being able to afford other basic necessities, such as food and health insurance.

Empower Missouri released a report Thursday on the nearly 800,000 Missourians living in poverty, and nearly 2 million Missourians living near the poverty line. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the state population is about 6 million.

Attorney General Chris Koster speaks a press conference Thursday in St. Louis with Legal Services of Eastern Missouri's Dan Glaizer.
File photo by Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster wants legislators to make an annual racial disparity data report more impactful. This comes as his latest report, covering 2015, continues to show big discrepancies in how often police stop black drivers compared to white drivers.

Jeanette Mott Oxford
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Public Radio’s political duo of Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcomes Jeanette Mott Oxford, head of Empower Missouri, as our guest on the latest edition of the Political Speaking podcast.

Oxford is a former Democratic legislator from St. Louis and has been active for more than 25 years in anti-poverty and social-justice organizations.

Empower Missouri is the latest moniker for a progressive advocacy group that’s been around since 1901 under various names.  Most recently, the organization was  known as the Missouri Association for Social Welfare.