Topeka Gov. Sam Brownback’s office on Tuesday said he doesn’t plan to change a new state policy that has eliminated or reduced food stamp benefits for hundreds of low-income, U.S.-born children whose parents are illegal immigrants.
In response to a question from the Lawrence Journal-World, Brownback said he wanted to speak with field staff with the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services to determine the impact of the new policy affecting food stamps, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.
But later in an email from the governor’s office, Brownback’s spokeswoman Sherriene Jones-Sontag said, “The Governor has requested an update on the SNAP but does not plan to make any additional changes. Any member of the Legislature who wants to offer an amendment to the budget regarding this issue certainly may.”
The cuts are the result of SRS changing the way it counts households and household income when determining who is eligible for SNAP.
Earlier this week, the Kansas City Star reported that families affected by the change are those that contain a mixture of legal citizens and illegal immigrants. While illegal immigrants are not eligible for the food assistance, U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants can be.
The issue is that the SNAP formula now includes the entire income of all members of a household but calculates food stamp eligibility as if the citizen children are the only people in the household. Previously, SRS counted only a portion if one or more members did not provide proof of legal U.S. residency.
Since the change took effect Oct. 1, food pantries, churches and social service agencies have been inundated with questions and requests for food.
Jones-Sontag said, “The policy decision to include all incomes of adult members of a household has nothing to do with cutting aid off of children of individuals who decline to provide proof of legal presence in the United States. It is about properly calculating household income and treating all citizens equally.”