The subcommittee meeting for House File 3 was held yesterday, and the room was absolutely packed full of advocates speaking out against HF 3. People are fired up about this bill and legislators and the media took notice. Thank you to everyone who spoke out against HF 3 and helped to raise awareness about this bad bill!
While the outcome was not what we hoped, it was what we expected. The bill advanced out of the subcommittee on a 2-1 party line vote, but members of the subcommittee said they will be making changes to the bill before it comes before the full House Health and Human Services Committee. So, we’ve got our work cut out for us.
But first, let’s celebrate a win! The WIC-approved food list is out. Iowans spoke loud and clear that they did not want our legislators limiting the food options for low-income Iowans. But, while the WIC list is out, there is going to be an amendment to ban soda and candy from SNAP purchases.
The coming days and weeks are going to be critical in stopping HF 3. Please contact the members of the House Health and Human Services Committee (listed below) and ask them to:
- Scrap the asset test. This is one of the most harmful pieces of the bill and would especially put Iowans with more than one vehicle at risk of losing access to SNAP benefits. Iowans well below the asset limit would also be at risk of losing their benefits due to the additional administrative hoops Iowans would have to jump through.
- Provide a clean $1 million appropriation for the Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB) program. Currently this funding is contingent upon the USDA granting Iowa a waiver to restrict soda and candy from SNAP, something we believe is highly unlikely to happen. The state should instead provide a clean $1 million for DUFB that is not tied to any other piece of HF 3.
- Better yet, kill the bill entirely! There are a lot of other bad pieces of HF 3, including work requirements for the Medicaid expansion population, requiring custodial parents to cooperate with the child support recovery unit to receive SNAP, a computerized identity authentication process, and other administrative hurdles for Iowans accessing public assistance programs.
Visit iowahungercoalition.org/protect-snap for more info on HF 3.
Iowa House Health and Human Services Committee Members
Rep. Ann Meyer – firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Tom Jeneary – email@example.com
Rep. Devon Wood – firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell – email@example.com
Rep. Eddie Andrews – firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Austin Baeth – email@example.com
Rep. Michael Bergan – firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Brian Best – email@example.com
Rep. Brooke Boden – firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Steven Bradley – email@example.com
Rep. Timi Brown-Powers – firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. John Forbes – email@example.com
Rep. Joel Fry – firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Barb Kniff McCulla – email@example.com
Rep. Brian Lohse – firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Shannon Lundgren – email@example.com
Rep. Mary Madison – firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Heather Matson – email@example.com
Rep. Thomas Moore – firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Josh Turek – email@example.com
Rep. Hans Wilz – firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s the end of the first week of the 2023 Iowa legislative session, and the news is, well, not good. As you may have guessed from the title of this post, we saw a bill introduced this week targeting SNAP, House File 3.
This bill would restrict SNAP participants’ ability to make their own food choices, take food away from Iowans, and increase hunger and food insecurity in our state. The harmful proposals in the bill include:
- Restricting SNAP purchases to only foods on the WIC-approved food item list. This would severely limit the foods people could purchase with their SNAP benefits. SNAP recipients could no longer purchase meat, other than certain varieties of canned tuna and salmon. Meat, Poultry, and Seafood is the #1 food category purchased by SNAP participants nationwide, amounting to 1 in every 5 dollars of SNAP benefits spent.
Other foods that would be restricted from SNAP purchases make up a lengthy list including frozen prepared foods, butter, flour, cooking oil, herbs, spices, coffee and tea, cottage cheese, snack foods, nuts and seeds, white rice, rice noodles, jam, canned fruits and vegetables, soup, condiments, white bread, meal kits, bottled water, sliced cheese, crackers, and on and on. It’s much easier to list what you still would be able to purchase with SNAP than to list all the items you could not.
- Establishing an asset limit for SNAP. Households would face a limit of $2,750 in assets, or $4,250 in assets if at least one member of the household is age 60 or older, or is disabled. The value of a household’s primary residence and one vehicle would be excluded, as would retirement accounts. Even children’s savings accounts would count toward the asset limit for the household.
Households with more than one vehicle would be especially at risk of being kicked off SNAP. Having a vehicle can be the difference between finding employment or not, especially in rural areas of the state without public transit. Asset limits also discourage people from saving for emergencies. This policy would keep Iowans stuck in poverty, not help them out.
- Performing monthly and quarterly eligibility verification checks for SNAP and Medicaid. Such frequent eligibility checks have the potential to make program participants jump through additional hoops and remove people from benefits for which they are eligible, especially when paired with an asset test for SNAP.
- Requiring participation in the SNAP Employment & Training program to be eligible for SNAP. The bill prohibits the state from exempting people from the SNAP Employment & Training program, which we still have many questions about. But we believe that SNAP E&T should be a voluntary program, not a mandatory program required for SNAP eligibility.
- Requiring custodial parents to cooperate with the child support recovery unit or lose access to SNAP benefits. There is not a way to implement this provision that does not result in taking food away from children. Furthermore, there is no evidence this type of policy generates significantly more child support payments to custodial households.
Learn more about on this bad bill.
How can you help?
Real stories from real Iowans can stop HF 3, but legislators need to hear loud and clear that we will not stand for this attack on SNAP and the rely on it. You can help stop this bad bill by taking action:
- Contact the 39 co-sponsors of House File 3 (below). Let them know you do not support the efforts to make it more difficult to access SNAP and other public assistance programs in Iowa and ask them not to advance the bills out of committee.
- Help raise awareness. Tell your friends and family about the attacks on SNAP and encourage them to take action as well. Share about what’s happening in the legislature on social media. Write a letter to the editor and submit it to your local paper. See below for resources you can share.
- Share your story with us. Would you or someone you know be personally affected by these proposed policy changes? We want to hear from you. Fill out a short form to share your story with us.
Contact us at email@example.com.
Join the Iowa Hunger Coalition for our next monthly meetup!
Wednesday, January 18, 10:00-11:00am
We’ll provide a refresher on the legislative process in Iowa and walk through some tips and tricks for navigating the legislature’s website to stay updated and engaged on legislative action, lobbyist declarations, and more!