Budgeting food stamps is a difficult task to manage even in the best of circumstances. One way that some families have learned to budget their food stamp benefits each month is to use bulk shopping options
The state of Kansas is experiencing some trouble with the latest food stamp policies. A new policy a few months ago cut food stamps that were going to thousands of children, and lawmakers are now looking for ways to help. However, they are finding that the issue is their resident status, since many of these children are living with families who are in the U.S. illegally. Legislative leaders in Kansas simply don't want to tackle any illegal immigration issues during an election year, which is causing more problems for these children who are going hungry.
Senators in Topeka proposed an amendment to the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services budget that would give back some aid to children who are U.S. citizens yet live with parents who are illegal immigrants. That amendment was dropped, however, last Wednesday. For that reason, a bill was filed separately with the House that would help households where children's benefits were reduced after SRS changed how it counts income for SNAP eligibility. In the past, illegal immigrants who were parents of children were still able to receive some form of aid.
The bill doesn't have a sponsor listed, which is also causing some problems. This is how controversial the bill has become for Kansas political leaders. The committee leader won't state who is behind the bill. SRS officials have planned to change the bill in order to see it pass, but the outlook isn't going well. Still, the lawmakers have to understand the plight that face families who have children and are not receiving any aid because of policies.
"There is obviously politics in this, which is a tragedy because we are talking about hungry citizen kids," said Melinda Lewis, a public policy consultant for El Centro, an anti-poverty organization in Kansas City, Kansas.
"What you are seeing…are legislators trying to use powers available to them to register their disappointment of SRS taking this action unilaterally," Lewis said. "They're trying to send different kinds of signals to SRS to induce change."
Whether or not Lewis is right, or if policies will change, currently, there is still nothing that is going to change the policy. The department created the new policy last October, because officials said families with non-citizen members were getting preferential treatment over all-citizen families. However, by law, illegal immigrants are not eligible for food stamps. However, their children who are born in the U.S. are eligible.
Numbers from when the policy was changed show that 1,105 households in Kansas with about 2,2000 U.S. children lost food stamps. Other families had their benefits significantly reduced. SRS officials say that the families have too much to qualify for food stamps.
Advocates have stepped up to help promote change. Lewis says that the SRS is "pretending" that the income is just made to feed citizen members of the household, which isn't true at all. Immigrant family members also eat and also need to survive.
Kansas is just one of many states that adopted the new policy. Utah and Nebraska have also changed their policies regarding food stamps and income policies. Hopefully, with more light on this topic, and more intervention from political groups, there will be a better idea of how to take care of these families during a time of such great unemployment and instability.