Gov. Brownback’s “Tweak” Kicks Thousands of Kansas Kids Off Food Stamps
A recent change in Kansas’s food stamp eligibility guidelines by Governor Sam Brownback’s administration has kicked thousands of children off the rolls and left their families scrambling to put food on the table — an interesting policy decision for a leader who claims reducing child poverty is his top goal. These children’s disqualifying offense? Being born in America to undocumented parents.
By law, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a federally funded but state-run program, is prevented from providing benefits to non-citizens, but their U.S.-born children can qualify if their household income falls below 130 percent of the federal poverty line.
The Department of Agriculture (which oversees SNAP) gives states a choice between two different sets of eligibility metrics. Kansas is already one of only four states to use the tighter standard, but in the last few months they have restricted eligibility even more for households including undocumented individuals — a “tweak” that abruptly rescinded the crucial assistance for more than 2,000 Kansas kids.
The administration’s pitiful defense was that they were just fixing a glitch in the system in pursuit of fairness and equality, but as the Kansas City Star editorialized this week, this justification is “misleading and shamefully lacking.” If the Brownback administration’s only goal is to rectify an administrative problem, they could surely do it without kicking vulnerable kids to the curb.
Hiding behind bureaucratic double-speak to excuse the real harm you’ve just caused for thousands of your most vulnerable citizens is as cowardly as it is cruel.