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Archive for Monday, October 14, 2013

Battle over food stamps going on in statehouses and D.C.

October 14, 2013

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Marian Poe, executive director of Rice County Communities that Serve in Lyons, said she looked at her email the afternoon of Sept. 30 and her jaw dropped.

Just one day before the renewal of a federal grant to help poor people access food stamps was to take effect, Gov. Sam Brownback's administration informed her and other grantees that the state was no longer going to use those funds.

"It was a total shock," Poe said.

Republican officials in state Capitols and Washington have been calling for deep cuts in food stamps, saying that the program has grown out of control. House Republicans have approved a bill that would cut $40 billion in food stamps, kicking millions of people out of the program.

Nationwide, the number of people receiving benefits under the federally funded Supplemental Nutrition Program, also called SNAP or referred to as food stamps, has increased approximately 75 percent since 2007.

Defenders of the program, however, say the increase occurred because of the Great Recession. The economic recovery has been slow. Nearly 47 million people live in poverty, the highest level in two decades. Currently, nearly 320,000 Kansans receive food stamps.

In Kansas last year, the Brownback administration changed the way it counts food stamp eligibility, which cut food stamps going to thousands of children in households that contained a mixture of legal citizens and undocumented immigrants. After that change took effect, food pantries, churches and social service agencies said they were inundated with requests for food.

Then last month, state officials announced they would not seek renewal of a federal waiver that allowed 20,000 Kansans, who were unemployed and childless, to receive benefits under SNAP. The change in policy was to encourage people to get jobs, said Kansas Department of Children and Families Secretary Phyllis Gilmore.

Now comes the refusal by Kansas of federal funds for outreach.

Poe said her small organization of volunteers will be scrambling to make up for the loss of $16,267.50.

Rice County is the sixth poorest county in the state, Poe said. "You just can't get the money from somewhere else. Our food pantries are always short," she said.

Four other grantees — Harvesters, Kansas City; USDA Food Bank, Wichita; Catholic Social Service and Community Access, Independence — also lost outreach grants, totaling $55,260.

The Brownback administration said it dropped the federal funding because the administration doesn't want to encourage people to reach for welfare.

"We simply do not believe taxpayer dollars should be used to recruit people to be on welfare," said Theresa Freed, a spokesperson for DCF.

When asked to respond to that, the leaders of several social service agencies paused.

"That makes my blood boil. I have never equated food assistance with welfare," said Poe.

The outreach funds were used to help eligible low-income people enroll and fill out the 12-page application for SNAP.

"The people we are helping, these are people who have hit a bump in the road," Poe said.

She said food stamp recipients are often families in which the main breadwinner has been injured, or has been laid off, or a pregnant woman is placed on bed rest and can't work. About one third of Kansas households receiving SNAP include an individual working, according to DCF.

Without this assistance, she said, "Children are going to go bed hungry."

DCF's Freed disagreed, saying the department anticipated minimal impact to the grantees, and that no benefits were reduced. She said the organizations can still conduct their own outreach.

"We support the work of the former grantees to distribute food to low-income families. We simply believe recruiting families to apply for food assistance is not consistent with our efforts to empower people to be less reliant on welfare and more self-sufficient," Freed said.

Comments

JayhawkFan1985 1 year, 2 months ago

Maybe we should all take a moment to read the following verses from 1 Corinthians 13 New International Version (NIV)...

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

When I read this, I have a hard time understanding anyone, including a governor, denying children food.

JayhawkFan1985 1 year, 2 months ago

Or, maybe this from Mathew 14: 13-21

13 When Jesus heard what had happened, He withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” 16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” 17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.

21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Bob Forer 1 year, 2 months ago

Foodstamps are not there for the taking. You have to meet income guidelines. And if you qualify, it means you probably don't have enough money to eat,.

Tax breaks to the wealthy who already hve plentuy ,means you have to make up the revenue shortfall somewhere. First you cut eduction to children, and when that doesn't cure it, you go after the most vulnerable among us, the poor, who don't know how to fight back.

i find t hard to believe that any human being with an ounce of decency would support this But I m suire there are a few cowads out there who are applauding. In rivate, of course. They dare not show their face in public.

I am ashamed of the cruelty of some human beings.

Cait McKnelly 1 year, 2 months ago

And THIS is the difference between being "pro-life" and "pro-fetus", Governor. Don't you EVER say again that you believe in a "culture of life" because you don't.

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