ST. LOUIS (KMOV) – Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said he was working on a fix for state food stamp call centers after a News 4 investigation last week found people were hungry because they could never get through.
Parson told News 4 he was aware of the problem and telling people to hang on, but many say they are hungry and desperate for help now.
“I need my benefits,” said Darrian Johnson. He, as many News 4 Investigates have heard of recently, was kicked off his food stamps and unable to reach anyone in the state about it.
“I have a log on my phone from the last months of January and February and they say they’re going to call you that day, they never call,” he said.
People have reported extremely long wait times to state call centers for Missouri’s food stamp program known as SNAP.
“We have to improve our game and do a better job,” Parson said.
Parson said the state is looking into the matter.
“I think we’re working on it right now,” he said. “We are aware of that, and we try to make sure that we improve this system and we work on it every day.”
But these Missourians are hungry right now. “What’s your advice to people who are trying to get these SNAP benefits and just can’t get through?” News 4’s Lauren Trager asked the governor.
“I think you should reach out to the state, and we’re working hard to make sure somebody responds to it, whatever that process is, but don’t give up and keep trying,” Parson said.
News 4 visited several local offices, and most were virtual ghost towns. Johnson was told he would have to wait an hour and a half on Chouteau, only to be told he should sit in front of a phone, not a living person.
“When I need you you’re not there so what’s the use of our taxpayers keeping this place open, if you’re not there to help people then I’m so sorry,” he said. -he declares.
The Department of Social Services previously said its call centers were understaffed. But, News 4 is still seeking answers on how the state got into this mess and how it plans to fix it.
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