Sedgwick County officials mull restrictions for food program

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Sedgwick County commissioners are considering asking the state to bar people in the U.S. illegally from a federal nutrition program.

The Wichita Eagle reports that no state has such a restriction on the federal Women, Infants and Children program, which provides nutritional food and supplements, like milk and cheese, to low-income families.

Chairman Richard Ranzau on Wednesday proposed that the county ask the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, which administers WIC money in the state, to restrict program participation to citizens, U.S. nationals and immigrants who are in the country legally.

Two of the other five commissioners supported Ranzau’s plan.

“If you’re going to come in here illegally, you need to be prepared to provide for yourself and your family,” Ranzau said.

Commissioners Tim Norton and Dave Unruh opposed Ranzau’s suggestion.

“As human beings, in my mind, we have some obligation to be sure that we take care of the people in our community,” Norton said.

State health department spokeswoman Sara Belfry says U.S. citizenship isn’t a requirement to be eligible for WIC, and changing eligibility requirements would need state and federal approval.

Ranzau proposed six changes to WIC, and commissioners voted 3-2 Wednesday to cut the program’s grant by roughly $358,000. Some of the proposals would be considered later.

Another suggestion from Ranzau would see the Sedgwick County develop a form that would ask people who receive health department services about their citizenship status. He said it’s for data-collection purposes.

“We can tell people ‘yes, this is a problem’ or ‘no, it’s not a problem,'” Ranzau said.


Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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