The following Op-Ed by YWCA CEO Kathleen Marker was published in the Kansas City Star. Read the article here.
Kansas’ high grocery sales tax is an extra burden on those who are already hurting.
At YWCA Northeast Kansas, we are seeing a historic increase in the number of victims and survivors who are accessing our services. They need and want mental health services, affordable housing, affordable and accessible childcare, and now more than ever, an increased need for financial assistance with food, which is why we are pushing to ‘Axe the Food Tax’ in our state.
As agencies responding on the frontlines, the COVID-19 pandemic has put extreme pressure on nonprofits in Kansas. Our community partners, along with YWCA Northeast Kansas, have risen to the challenge to do what is expected by our community for those who have been hit the hardest by the realities of the pandemic, because so many Kansans rely heavily on what we provide them to survive.
Many times, victims leaving our emergency shelter are faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles. They will often struggle to find safe and affordable housing, and they struggle financially to purchase basic food items needed to survive. Poverty affects 25% of African American households and 25% of Hispanic households in Topeka; in white households, it is 15%.
It’s time that our Kansas lawmakers step up to help survivors, families, and people of color and help make their lives easier by eliminating Kansas’ state sales tax on food. The world around us has presented enough challenges over the past two years, and getting rid of this expense would provide much-needed financial relief for our most vulnerable population.
According to Governor Laura Kelly, eliminating this financial burden would save a family of four people more than $500 dollars a year. For the over 12,000 community members, victims, and survivors we served in 2021, that amount of money could make a huge impact on their lives.
Providing safe and affordable care, specifically for our mothers and children, is critical. YWCA Northeast Kansas is on a mission to provide dignity for all, and we believe all families, regardless of income, should have access to the basic resources to get back on their feet and feel safe. That includes the critical need for food.
We have been answering the greater Topeka community’s call for safety, support, healing and empowerment for 135 years. It is time that our state legislators do the same. It’s time to deliver a clean bill and Axe the Food Tax.
Is cutting the food sales tax still on the table for Kansas families? (Kansas Action for Children)
Everyone knows Kansas’ food sales tax is too high. Why are lawmakers not cutting it? (The Kansas City Star)