TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) Kansas welfare officials have eliminated or slashed food stamp benefits for hundreds of low-income, U.S.-born children whose parents are illegal immigrants.
The cuts are the result of the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services changing the way it counts household income when determining who is eligible for the food stamp program now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.
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 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.
“We have families who really are desperate,” said Elena Morales of El Centro, an anti-poverty agency in Kansas City, Kan. “These food stamps were making a difference for families to be able to provide nutritional food for their children, or food at all. This policy not only hurts these families, it hurts us, too, especially because we’re talking about U.S. citizen children.”