State unemployment and food assistance get boost from federal stimulus money

TOPEKA – People who get unemployment checks in Kansas will see an extra $25 a week from stimulus money sent to the state.

While an additional $25 per week might not seem like much, it means an extra tank of gas or more groceries for the approximately 59,000 Kansans receiving unemployment, Kansas Secretary of Labor Jim Garner said on Monday.

Money available for food assistance also is increasing.

Garner, Don Jordan, secretary of Social and Rehabilitation Services, and Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson explained how some of the federal stimulus money from the American Recovery Act will help Kansas programs.

Parkinson called the money “an important bridge as we are in this horrible transition period from these dark economic times headed towards what will be better days ahead.”

Money available to pay for food assistance will be increased by 13.6 percent which equals $12.6 million in the current fiscal year and $53.9 million in the next year, Jordan said.

“These additional resources will help Kansas families put food on the table,” he said.

More Kansans are using the food assistance. In January 2009, 94,000 households in the state received the food benefits, a 10.4 percent increase over 85,000 households the same time in 2008.

First-time applicants for unemployment have also increased, Garner said. In January, 23,400 people applied for unemployment for the first time, up from 13,000 the year before.

He expected that number to keep increasing.