The end of October brings an end to a boost in the amount of federal food assistance that's been helping to feed 316,000 Kansans for the past four years. The extra benefits were part of the stimulus bill Congress passed in 2009 to help people recover from the recession.
Barb LaClair, who studies hunger issues at the non-profit Kansas Health Institute, says caseloads suggest low-income Kansans still aren’t seeing a recovery. She says they’re going to have no choice but to rely even more on food banks and food pantries, which are already overextended.
The Kansas Department for Children and Families will stop using federal grants to help low-income residents sign up for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.
"We simply do not believe taxpayer dollars should be used to recruit people to be on welfare," said DCF spokeswoman Theresa Freed.
The federal program had awarded grants to five groups across Kansas, to help low-income residents apply for SNAP funds. The state notified the groups of the change on September 30, one day before the grants were to be renewed.
A federal waiver that allowed about 20,000 unemployed Kansas residents to receive food assistance will be allowed to expire at the end of the month.
The Kansas Department for Children and Families says able-bodied adults with no dependents would need to work for at least 20 hours per week to qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as SNAP or food stamps.
Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts has introduced a bill to reform the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps.
Sen. Roberts says the bill would save $36 billion over ten years by eliminating waste, and closing loopholes in the program.
“There were literally billions of dollars in savings that we could find without ever touching the food on the table, or in the kitchen cupboard, for the millions of Americans who rely on this program to help feed their families," he says.
Despite record levels of participation, Kansas remains below the national average in residents enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or food stamps.
A new fact sheet released by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says 315,000 Kansans were enrolled in the program in September 2012. That is 11 percent of the state population, or 1 in 9 people.