Banned for Life—Two Parents Led a Fight to Fix a Broken System

Below is a story published earlier in the month by Marguerite Casey Foundation (MCF) Senior Writer and Community Relations Staff Member, Paul Nyhan, about Gamaliel’s Kansas City affiliate MORE2 and their successful campaign to remove Missouri’s ban on food stamps for those with felony drug convictions.


KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Johnny Waller was turned down for food stamps when he was essentially living at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, as his two-year-old son Jordyn fought for his life against stage-four cancer in his stomach.

Given Jordyn’s fragile health, doctors told Johnny to prepare fresh food for him at the hospital. Money was tight since he had left his cleaning business back in Kansas City to care for his son. But that was temporary.  Johnny just needed food stamps until he got back home and back to work.

Missouri state officials told Johnny not to bother even applying. He had a felony drug conviction, meaning he was banned for life from receiving food stamps, even though he was convicted at age 18.

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