Nearly 100 Organizations Call on Iowa’s Legislature to Prioritize Summer EBT this Session

98 organizations across the state of Iowa have signed on to a letter calling on Iowa’s legislature to make Summer EBT a priority this legislative session.

Summer EBT would provide $120 in nutrition benefits to nearly 245,000 children who qualify for free and reduced price school meals in the state of Iowa during the summer months. The program is the first new permanent federal childhood nutrition program in twenty years, and was established by a bipartisan act of Congress in December 2022.

The state of Iowa announced on December 22, 2023, that Iowa would not be participating in Summer EBT in 2024. Advocates are calling on the legislature to take action this session to ensure the state participates in 2025 and every year going forward.

Read the full text of the letter, and list of co-signing organizations, below.

We, the undersigned organizations, urge the Iowa General Assembly to pass legislation to ensure Iowa’s participation in the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer Program for Children (Summer EBT). We simply cannot sit out this historic opportunity to address childhood hunger and food insecurity.

Summer EBT would provide $120 in nutrition benefits to nearly 245,000 children who qualify for free and reduced price school meals in the state of Iowa during the summer months. This total of $29.4 million to feed Iowa’s kids translates to $45.2 million in economic activity generated. Iowa would be responsible for half of the administrative costs of this program – an estimated $2.2 million dollars in the first year and $1.3 million in subsequent years. While we acknowledge that is a considerable amount of money, with a surplus of more than $2 billion in our state budget, it is a small price to pay for feeding Iowa’s food insecure children.

Summer EBT is a tried and tested program, with pilot projects gathering evidence on the program’s positive impact since 2011. In a final summary report of these demonstration projects, USDA Food and Nutrition Service found that providing a $60 monthly Summer EBT benefit:

  • reduced food insecurity by 8.3 percentage points and decreased food hardship by 33%;
  • increased consumption of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains;
  • and did not increase consumption of sugar sweetened beverages.

While summer meal program sites are an important piece in ensuring Iowa’s kids can continue to access nutritious food during the summer, real barriers to visiting these sites—including lack of transportation, limited hours, and service gaps in rural areas—will continue to exist for many Iowans. Even in urban areas, not every summer food service sponsor can offer multiple meal services—meaning children who live in close proximity to a site still may not have access to enough food in a day. Providing $40 per child in monthly nutritional benefits during the summer will supplement the role summer meal programs play in providing healthy food for Iowa’s children.

With food banks, food pantries, and other anti-hunger groups facing record-breaking numbers of Iowans turning to them for assistance, and school meal debt rising, we need action from our state’s leaders. Hunger and food insecurity touch the lives of Iowans in every community in our state. Summer EBT is a common sense, evidence-based policy for addressing childhood hunger and food insecurity.

We urge you to make passing Summer EBT a priority in the 2024 Iowa legislative session.

Signed (98),

AAUW Des Moines
American Association of University Women Iowa
American Diabetes Association
American Heart Association
AmeriCorps Seniors Program
Astig Planning
Bread for the World
Building Bridges 
Burlington/ West Burlington Area United Way
Clive Community Services
Common Good Iowa
Community Action Agency of Siouxland 
Community Action of Eastern Iowa
Community Action of Southeast Iowa
CommUnity Crisis Services and Food Bank
Coralville Community Food Pantry
Corridor Community Action Network 
Crisis Intervention Service
Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC)
Des Moines County Extension & Outreach
Dickinson County Hunger Coalition
Domestic Violence Intervention Program
Eat Greater Des Moines
Families Forward Bidwell Pantry
Feed the Pack
Food Rescue Partnership 
Friends of the Family
Good Samaritan Food Pantry
Greater Des Moines Church Women United
Greater Des Moines Diaper Collective
Henry County General Assistance
Homestead 1839
Hunger Free Dallas County / The Food GRID
IMPACT Community Action Partnership
Iowa Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Iowa ACEs 360
Iowa Alliance of YMCAs
Iowa Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church 
Iowa Catholic Conference
Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement
Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Iowa Community Action Association
Iowa Farmers Union
Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO
Iowa FoodCorps
Iowa Hunger Coalition
Iowa Interfaith Power & Light
Iowa Mental Health Advocacy
Iowa Public Health Association
Iowa State Education Association
Iowa Valley RC&D
Johnston Partnership
Jubilee UMC Freedom Center
League of Women Voters Metropolitan Des Moines
The Lord’s Cupboard Community Pantry 
Louisa County Community Services
Lutheran Services in Iowa
Mary J Treglia Community House
MATURA Action Corporation
Milestones Area Agency on Aging
Monsoon Asians & Pacific Islanders in Solidarity
Mount Pleasant Community School District
National Association of Social Workers, Iowa Chapter
Neighborhood Centers of Johnson County
Nisaa African Family Services
North Iowa Community Action Organization
Northeast Iowa Community Action Corporation
Operation Threshold 
Prevent Child Abuse Iowa
Save the Children Action Network
Sieda Community Action
South Central Iowa Community Action Program
Southeast Linn Community Center
Sustainable Iowa Land Trust 
Table to Table Food Distribution Network 
Thrive Together Today 
Trowel & Error Farm LLC
United Action for Youth
United Way and Community Foundation of Greater Fort Dodge
United Way of Central Iowa
United Way of Dubuque Area Tri-States
United Way of East Central Iowa
United Way of the Great River Region
United Way of Mahaska County
United Way of Siouxland
United Way of Story County
United Way of Wapello County
United Ways of Iowa
United Women in Faith, Iowa Conference
Upper Des Moines Opportunity, Inc. (UDMO)
Urbandale Community Action Network
Urbandale Food Pantry 
Voluntary Action Center of the Iowa Great Lakes
Waverly-Shell Rock Area United Way
West Central Community Action 

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