20,000 Kansans Could Lose Food Benefits As Waiver Expires

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW)-- About 20,000 Kansans could lose food assistance when the state allows a federal waiver to expire at the end of September.

The state says the change will encourage employment, requiring capable adults to work.

The waiver currently allows adults age 18 to 49, who are capable or working but are not employed and who do not have dependent children to receive food assistance.

The state announced Wednesday that those individuals currently benefiting from the waiver will be required to meet a minimum work requirement or be enrolled in a federally-approved job training program.

"We know that employment is the most effective way to escape poverty," said DCF Secretary Phyllis Gilmore. "As long as federal work requirements are met, no one will lose food assistance; the law only affects those individuals who are capable or working and have no dependent children."

The 2009 stimulus bill allowed all states to waive work requirements for able bodied adults with no dependents. According to the state, Kansas no longer meets waiver requirements because of low unemployment levels.

The state was offered a 12-month look-back, meaning Kansas could use an earlier higher unemployment number rate to continue the waiver.