Scheetz: Republicans Target Hungry Iowans With SNAP Food Help Restrictions

Rep. Sami Scheetz, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids

By Guest Post
January 30, 2023

Guest post from state Rep. Sami Scheetz

For decades, legislators have protected access to programs that help low-income Iowans. But not this year: Iowa House Speaker Pat Grassley, along with 38 other House Republicans, have signed onto House File 3, legislation that would severely restrict the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps.

The proposed restrictions in House File 3 include banning the use of SNAP dollars to purchase fresh meat, butter, and American cheese. The bill would prevent most families who own more than one vehicle from participating in the program through a provision called “asset testing.”

Forget for a moment that one in five SNAP dollars is spent on fresh beef, pork, or poultry; that Iowa is one of the top agricultural states in the nation; or that most working-class households in Iowa need transportation to hold down multiple jobs. There must be a reason for all this belt-tightening.

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What the Speaker fails to mention is that SNAP is entirely funded by the federal government—not by our state government. Iowa’s only cost is a split with the federal government to pay for administration of the program. The proposed changes would likely increase the state’s costs by increasing the amount of paperwork and administrative oversight, while callously taking food out of the mouths of 100,0000 Iowa children, who represent one-third of the approximately 300,000 people in our state who experience food insecurity.

To their great credit, anti-hunger advocates in Iowa have spoken out against the harmful provisions in House File 3 and the bill has become fodder for social media outrage–so much so that at least one of my colleagues who signed onto the bill are now pretending they never really planned to implement the provisions of the legislation they co-sponsored. Following a committee hearing last week on the bill, Republicans now have promised only to apply for a waiver from the federal government to restrict the purchase of pop and candy.

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One provision of House File 3 could earn my support as a stand-alone measure: a $1 million investment in the Double Up Food Bucks program, which helps SNAP recipients purchase more fresh produce.

The Governor and Republican lawmakers are content to pull the rug out from under working-class Iowans. I’d rather make feeding the hungry a top priority for our state.


by Rep. Sami Scheetz

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