Kansas Will Kick 20,000 People Off of Food Stamps

Written by Alan Pyke

Kansas plans to throw more than a fifth of its nearly 90,000 unemployed residents off of the food stamp rolls by reinstating federal work requirements for the program that are normally waived during times of unusually high unemployment. The state’s Department for Children and Families announced the move Wednesday and projected that 20,000 unemployed Kansans currently on food assistance will be affected.

The federal rules for food assistance require that able-bodied recipients who do not have dependent children – a very small subset of the food stamp population – work at least 20 hours per week in order to receive the aid for longer than three months. But states can waive that requirement when jobs are especially scarce, and nearly every state has done so during the Great Recession and gradual recovery. Kansas will be the fifth state to reinstitute the work requirement, and Oklahoma and Wisconsin are reportedly poised to follow suit shortly.

Nationwide, there are more than 3 job seekers for every job openingCritics of Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s (R) decision to reinstate the work requirements, such as Annie McKay of the Kansas Center for Economic Growth, noted that the state can’t change that scarcity of work through sheer willpower. “Taking someone off food stamp assistance isn’t going to suddenly create jobs for them,” McKay told the Kansas City Star. Chad Manspeaker, a city councilman in Topeka, told the Huffington Post that unemployment is a long-term problem and “we don’t solve it by starving them.”

Brownback’s approach to poverty throughout his term has reflected this same approach to reducing economic hardship. He has cut nearly 15,000 people off the welfare rolls, eliminated child tax credits that primarily benefit the working poor, and gotten rid of tax rebates for food and rent that were targeted to the poorest Kansans. Over the same period, Brownback has shifted some of the state’s tax burden off of wealthy shoulders and onto poor ones while falling nearly half a billion dollars short of the minimum level of education funding to which residents are legally entitled. Poverty data for 2012 will not be released until later this month, but child poverty in Kansas rose from 18 percent in 2010 to 19 percent in 2011. Thanks to population growth, the overall poverty rate for the state slid by 0.2 percentage points despite the total number of Kansans in poverty having risen.

The vast majority of food stamp recipients are either working or not part of the population that is expected to work. Children, the elderly and the disabled make up more than two-thirds of the food stamp rolls. Over 80 percent of recipients who would be expected to work find a job within a year of enrolling in the program. Over 95 percent of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients who had a job when they enrolled continued to work while receiving the aid.

This post was originally published in ThinkProgress

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Eternal Gardener
Eternal G4 years ago

Stop warfare and take care of your own first... what a disgrace!

Donna Ferguson
Donna F4 years ago

I'm so upset about the judgmentalness against the poor, I don't even know what to say. it's amazing how certain "religious" people push rage and hate instead of The Golden Rule. Treat others as you wish to be treated. they don't even care that they're deliberately hurting the less fortunate and the powerless.

Mary B.
Mary B4 years ago

Don't wait to vote these people out of office. They were voted into office by ignorant people with a slave master mentality, and they should be treated like the crazies they are. The need for food is so basic to all life that to think it's okay to deny food to anyone ablebodied because they have no job is so stupid it's unbelievable. ALL MUST EAT ! Those who want to tie it to working need to be locked up in an institution untill they can at least grasp how destructive their thinking is. Fuel of various kinds power machines. FOOD POWERS PEOPLE. Basic romperoom understanding. You are not allowed the luxury of turning it into a 'moral' argument.
Kick these idiots out of office and if you want to vote you should be able to demonstrate at least the understanding that all people must be allowed food assistence. NO STRINGS ATTATCHED ! And if you don't want it coming from the government, then we'll put you on a mandatory sign up list and send them to you for food and shelter and if you've got work for them, fine, but you must feed them anyway just so it's not coming from ' your tax dollors'. You will have gotten your wish.

Alexandra Rodda
Alexandra Rodda4 years ago

Thank you, Margaret G. for the Green Star.
It seems that some of these hyper-religious Republicans should reread the Bible with a different attitude. In particular, they should study the story of Abel and Cain. The point of the story, apart from the painful experience of envy and what it can lead to, is that we are all our brother's keepers. Our brothers and sisters are everywhere as everybody.

Margaret Goodman
Margaret G4 years ago

Alexandra R. wrote, "Could the state’s Department for Children and Families be charged with murder when children, the disabled and the elderly start dying due to malnutrition and starvation? The deaths would be the direct result of their deliberate actions ..."

That started me thinking about who could be charged with murder for the over 40,000 people dieing each year in the United States due to lack of medical care.

janice b.
jan b4 years ago

Angela...your post sickens me and I have come to believe there are people who know nothing at all or are just plain cruel and ignorant. There are 50 million people unemployed who don't really like being poor.....you ought to try living in their shoes before you talk about plenty of jobs...what idiocity. . Every job available there are hundreds of applicants....and so many that companies don't respond because they can't keep up. Folks who had a decent job at one time don't like being poor .. on food stamps when one time they didn't have to worry about a grocery bill .......IMAGINE THAT !!!

Amanda M.
Amanda M4 years ago

Angela R, my husband has been applying for a job in the HVAC field for TWO YEARS now, and so far, nobody's hired him despite his having applied for HUNDREDS of jobs now! If there's "always work available," then why is he still stuck working as a security job for wages that are only slightly above minimum wage? You answer THAT one!

And I am working as a stay-at-home mom, which contrary to popular belief IS a real job! Those who say I should go back to work outside the home fail to realize that most jobs now not only have tons of people applying, but they also don't pay enough to cover the prohibitively expensive costs of daycare AND gas, they provide squat for sick leave for you OR when you need to take off to care for a sick kid, and you risk getting fired or not being able to pay the bills if you do so! Worse, there's not much in the way of supervised care for kids who are too old for grade-school-age day care, but too young to be trusted to stay out of trouble when home alone!

So we're doing and making as much for ourselves as possible, pinching our pennies so tightly that Lincoln screams, and praying so much for him to get an HVAC job that if we were Catholic, we wouldn't have knees left!

Robert H.
Robert Hamm4 years ago

Yes angela you are right. There is always work to do. Unfortunately not all work pays a wage. Wages are what we NEED. Stop assuming all people on food stamps are lazy slackers. In fact many, if not most, of the people are the working poor.

Lynn C.
Lynn C4 years ago


Christiana B.
Chris B4 years ago

Angela R. Really? There is ALWAYS work available? The article clearly states there are 3 people for every available job. And a lot of employers are posting jobs, interviewing for them -- and then just not hiring.

Maybe you're saying if I move to another country I could find work? Costs money to move. And most countries don't let recent immigrants work.

It's just not as simple as "work if you're physically able."