Food banks & SNAP
We are watching two bills at the state Capitol that would exempt from sales tax good and services purchased by nonprofit food banks and food pantries. HF 2459 and SF 2385, assigned to their respective Ways and Means committees and thus exempt from the funnel deadline, would allow these organizations to redirect some of their limited resources so they can do more for the communities they serve.
United Way of Central Iowa has led the charge advocating for this smart bill. Another key supporter is the Iowa Hunger Coalition, an association of organizations and individuals committed to ending hunger in Iowa. Its members come from food banks, food pantries, food rescue organizations and community partnerships.
These organizations and individuals play a critical role in alleviating hunger in Iowa, but they can’t do it alone. SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, is the front line against hunger. SNAP—often called Food Assistance in Iowa—helps struggling families and workers put healthy food on their tables.
Federal legislation on SNAP is part of the Farm Bill, which must be “reauthorized” or renewed by Congress about every five years. Its next deadline is September 30, 2018. We are anticipating that the House Agriculture Committee, of which Iowa's Rep. Steve King is a member, will release its Farm Bill legislation within the next month. We are hoping not to see significant cuts in the program, which served over 360,000 Iowans, or 12 percent of the state’s population, in 2017.
More than 71 percent of SNAP recipients in Iowa are in families with children. Over half are in working families. SNAP kept 31,000 Iowa children out of poverty annually between 2009 and 2012.
Cuts and harmful changes to SNAP that take away people's food have no place in the Farm Bill. We urge Congress to focus on policies that help create jobs and boost wages, rather than punishing people who are already facing economic hardship.
To learn more about SNAP in Iowa, check out this fact sheet from the Iowa Fiscal Partnership, the joint effort of the Center and the Iowa Policy Project.