At a time of high inflation, this is not the time to reduce tools that emergency food assistance organizations use to aid those with a lack of food. I worry these two bills will restrict the overall food choices Iowan seniors and children have to lead their lives. - Jacob Wanderscheid Food Bank of Siouxland Executive Director
The Iowa Legislature, specifically through House File 3 and Senate Bill 1105, will make it more difficult for Iowans to access SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formally Food Stamps) benefits. This is deeply disappointing to the Food Bank of Siouxland and the communities we serve. We believe the program can remain integral, while continuing serving those in food need.
Both bills will make it difficult for those who need food assistance to qualify for SNAP and stay on the program, impeding progress toward self-sufficiency. The bill requires more frequent income and asset checks, which will require more State of Iowa employees. When similar rules were rescinded in Pennsylvania, the state saved just over $3 million, while adding 100,000 people back to the program. A fiscal note has not been provided. The fiscal note does offer estimates of state costs (or savings) and the effects of the reeducation in benefits.
Further, these bills put federal asset limits in place, not keeping pace with inflation, nor taking in account for Iowa’s rural areas. Families who have two vehicles would be restricted from SNAP most likely right away. In many of the counties in Northwest Iowa, public transportation between towns or communities is nonexistent. Vehicles are needed to get to places of employment, school, the grocery store, etc. Various items make up assets and should not be an indicator of a family or individual’s food needs.
These bills will limit what types of food individuals and households can purchase to those on the Women’s, Infant, and Children’s (WIC) program. While the foods on the WIC program are healthy, they are tailored to the specific nutritional needs of those who just gave birth and small children. The food on WIC tends to be more expensive, making SNAP dollars more restrictive, not going as far as they do now.
Fresh meat is not allowed in either of these bills at this time. In a state which prides itself on the production of pork, turkey, and chicken (among others), it is disheartening to see these items cut from the list of choices.
What improvements can be made to these bills?
Lift restrictions on what types of food are allowed under SNAP. As a state, we generally trust the individuals and household to make the best choices for them in many areas; let us keep trusting our neighbors.
Raise asset limits high enough to allow households save and be resourceful enough on their own, and tie the asset limits to the rate of inflation.
Have a fiscal note produced. This will provide the costs of the measure and permit a baseline to review future years against.
The Food Bank of Siouxland strongly discourages the passage of either of the file or bill. Further, we urge Northwest Iowa constituents to reach out to elected officials to voice their opinions and advocate for those facing food insecurity. You can leave comments on the Iowa Legislature’s website and visit the Iowa Food Bank Association (IFBA) website for more information.