Senate budget committee questions SRS food stamp policy

Members of the Senate Ways and Means Committee today grilled a top welfare official about a controversial change in policy that has resulted in at least 1,000 children being dropped from the state’s food stamp program.

"Can you tell me how this fits in the governor's roadmap to take children out of poverty?" Sen. Laura Kelly, a Topeka Democrat, asked Michelle Schroeder, director of public policy and legislative relations at the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services.

"This is a policy that's based on equality in the system," Schroeder said. "We had to look at the policy in totality as it affects every household."

"Which is easy to do when you're sitting in an office in Topeka dealing with them in the aggregate," Kelly replied. "It's a little harder to do when you're back home and can't go to the grocery store."

The previous policy for determining eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) allowed households headed by non-citizens to earn, on average, about $900 more per month than households headed by citizens and still qualify for benefits, said Schroeder, repeating what she told a House committee last week.

Kelly said that rationale seemed to be flawed. She pointed to a document with four scenarios under the previous formula where all-citizen households fared better than the same household with an undocumented member.

"The premise that households with an undocumented resident (were) being treated better, that doesn't appear to be the case," Kelly said.

Formula change

Prior to October, food stamp eligibility for Kansas children of undocumented parents — as in most states — was determined by a formula that counted a fraction of the household income to account for the parents’ ineligibility.

For example, if the non-citizen parents in a five-person household — two parents, three U.S.-born children — earned $2,000 a month, that $2,000 was divided by five and multiplied by three to determine whether the family met the program’s income threshold and to decide the amount of food aid it would receive. In this example, the monthly household income would be counted as $1,200, making the three children together eligible for about $365 a month in food stamps, or about $121 per child.

By contrast, if the parents were U.S. citizens, the five people in the household would be eligible for a total household benefit of about $425 a month, or about $85 per person.

SRS officials concluded that the potentially greater per-person benefit under the old “prorated” formula was unfair even though the total household benefit was less for the family headed by undocumented parents.

With the new policy, all household income is counted but only the number of citizens in the house is used to determine eligibility.

The change resulted in 1,042 children losing benefits in households with at least one undocumented parent, according to SRS.

Federal regulations do not allow illegal immigrants to apply for food stamps for themselves. They are, however, allowed to apply on behalf of their minor children, if the children were born in the United States. Citizenship is automatic for U.S.-born children regardless of the status of the parents.

SNAP, funded by the federal government but managed by states, is still commonly referred to as the “food stamp” program, even though beneficiaries now use a government-issued electronic swipe card to purchase groceries. About 141,000 households in Kansas receive SNAP benefits.

One of four states

Kansas is the fourth state to adopt the current eligibility requirements — Arizona, Utah and Nebraska are the others. The other 46 states use the eligibility formula previously used by Kansas, which changed its policy in October 2011.

"Why are only four states using this program?" asked Sen. Terrie Huntington, R-Fairway.

"I can't answer that," Schroeder said.

→ Continue reading, and view the document cited by Sen. Kelly, at

Tagged: children, food, SNAP, undocumented, stamps, srs, nutrition, alien, immigrant


George_Braziller 6 years, 4 months ago

So does that mean, I don't know the answer or I'm not allowed to answer the question?

"I can't answer that," Schroeder said."

Sunny Parker 6 years, 4 months ago

Free food, health care, housing, and now free birth control! Somebody has to pay for all of this free stuff!

wastewatcher 6 years, 4 months ago

LI BERAL LAURA KELLY would probably give everyone all of the food they can use and have someone else pay for it. She did not whine when her LIBERAL friend Sebelius was spending the state into the poor house and now she whines about everything. Elections have consequences and the LIBERALS were soundly defeated in the last election. I wonder what kind of food stamps the home country of the illegals has?

Richard Heckler 6 years, 4 months ago

"Free food, health care, housing, and now free birth control! Somebody has to pay for all of this free stuff!"

Please explain how any of the above come free. That is simple absurd.

First of all all taxpayers pay into the cookie jar in the event the services may need to be activated. In essence all who pay taxes have contributed including those who are forced into the need.

Second trying to make do at this level can neither be comfortable nor necessarily be desired.

What about billionaire employers that refuse to pay a sustainable wage instead advise their employees of SRS services? Think Wal-Mart for one.

Heath care is a service that we as humans are born to need and is certainly not a matter of choice. Yet expensive insurance portrays health care as some retail item that can only be within reach IF the wallet is fat enough. This is immoral.

Birth control is a means to reducing abortions and keep SRS services budgets to a minimum.

Free food and housing what a joke. No such thing. Any person who has paid taxes has made a contribution make no mistake about that.

Now what about the politicians and their special interest campaign contributors which have contributed greatly to the need for SRS services? You know the outsourcing of USA jobs by the millions and twice taking the USA economy down the tubes at a cost of trillions of dollars and millions of additional jobs.

ENTITLEMENT - Bailing out The Reagan/Bush Savings and Loan Heist aka home loan scandal sent the economy out the window costing taxpayers many many $$ trillions (Cost taxpayers $1.4 trillion), Plus millions of jobs, loss of retirement plans and loss of medical insurance.

ENTITLEMENT - Bailing out the Bush/Cheney Home Loan Wall Street Bank Fraud cost consumers $ trillions, millions of jobs, loss of retirement plans and loss of medical insurance. Exactly like the Reagan/Bush home loan scam. Déjà vu can we say. Yep seems to be a pattern.

Where was Sam Brownback and what was he doing to prevent any of the above?

  1. Talking up the global economy and supporting the largest export of all..... USA jobs.

  2. Living comfortably off of taxpayers and not paying attention or perhaps turning a blind eye. My goodness Sam Brownback seems to the be among the largest of tax dollar moochers. Here is man worth close to $6 million living off the taxpayers.

Lawrence Morgan 6 years, 4 months ago

Merrill, you are right on.

Who are these people who post here--and, of course, they remain anonymous-- who would just as well see a young person die??? All people deserve a chance. I'm so sick of this mentality. I don't know how else a person could speak the way they do.

And everyone deserves to know who people are when they speak. Thank you!

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