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Archive for Thursday, August 2, 2007

State aims to get food stamps to more Kansans

August 2, 2007

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— State officials Wednesday announced new grant funding to try to find out why 100,000 Kansans who qualify for food stamps don't participate in the program.

"No Kansan should go to bed hungry," said Don Jordan, secretary of the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services.

"This grant will help enroll eligible consumers in the food stamp program at a local level," he said.

The food stamp program provides monthly benefits, which can be used to buy food, to eligible low-income families. Nationwide, it helps feed 29 million people per month.

Estimates show that 65 percent of Kansans who qualify for the Food Stamp Program actually receive benefits. The national average is 56 percent.

Last month, 182,946 Kansans received benefits out of 283,637 who are eligible, officials said.

In Douglas County, the participation rate is 36.5 percent, the lowest of all surrounding counties and lower than many poorer, rural counties where participation lags the statewide average.

Abbie Hodgson, a spokeswoman for SRS, said that is because of the high number of college students in Lawrence, who have a low income but don't participate because they are still assisted by their parents.

Still, there are many in Douglas County who need help getting enough food, said Paul Hunt, director of human service programs at the Ballard Community Center.

The center's food pantry shelves empty quickly and have to be restocked often, he said.

"What I do see is a very large number of people who get to the end of the month, and they do receive food stamps, but it isn't enough," Hunt said.

SRS plans to provide $150,000 in grants for pilot projects to help low-income Kansans receive food stamps.

The pilot projects will focus on counties with a participation rate of less than 70 percent.

Funding for the grants comes from a "bonus" SRS received last year from the federal government for keeping its food stamp application error rate below the national average, Hodgson said.

Comments

Raymond Munoz 7 years, 2 months ago

From what I know about the low-income population, after working with them for a number of years, I would have to say that pride is a big reason for not getting food stamps. I've known quite a few people that are just too proud to get food stamps no matter what economic condition they're in.

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baby_girl 7 years, 2 months ago

For those that do qualify, they get barely enough to make it on. For a family of 5 with one full time working dad and one part time working mom, feeding themselves and 3 children on less than $200 a month in food stamps is ridiculous. I know the money they make from their jobs should help, but after taxes, when you're paying rent, car payment, car repairs, clothes for school, utilities, household necessities, etc. and relying on that $200 to pay for groceries and it doesn't make it, the end of the month or even half the month feeding the family gets hard. After dad receives a raise, help drops to approximately $138. Makes the mom want to quit working to get more help, but needing to get out of the house and support her family keeps her at work.

Pride is a big factor, but a lot of people think "what's the point" when they know people that live like the one above or this next family:

A family of 4, mom, dad, 2 children, with the mom being the full time worker and the dad being the stay at home parent, the mom gets less than $125 a month in food stamps. With car payment, house payment, house insurance, car insurance, etc., that $125 doesn't help much. Again, the mom thinks what's the point? Still she takes the assistance until her next raise at work, when the food stamp assistance drops to under $70.

Does the state not realize how much groceries have gone up? The cost of everything has gone up and that it's a struggle for some to make it on such an amount? What about those children that need special items for health concerns? Those families I talk about worry about making sure their kids eat.

When I was little and my father was gone, I remember my own mom going hungry so that her little girls could eat. I remember my sister making mac and cheese with just water and "biscuits" out of flour and water. We ate it because that's all we had. A treat for us was on mom's payday when she'd surprise us at 1 in the morning after she got off work with a hamburger and french fries and that was only if her paycheck was enough to make rent and the bills. It's sad when I look back and remember looking in our empty fridge and sometimes only eating the free meal provided for us at school.

I wish kids were always taken care of and never had any worries, having enough food should never be a child's concern. There should be more alerts to what free programs are offered throughout the state and locally for those that can't afford to feed their children 3 meals a day and snacks. Pride keeps a lot of people from going to SRS and looking at what programs are offered for their children especially for the summer when times get tougher with children being home all day.

I still feel so sad. I never want to think about how bad it was when we were little and it seemed like no one cared. Writing this, I find it hard not to cry for me and those that are struggling out there.

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