Upcoming Changes to SNAP in Iowa

Starting December 1, 2023, all “Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents” (ABAWDs) must meet work requirements or lose access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).


People between the ages of 18-52, who are mentally and physically able to work, and do not have any dependents in their household are considered ABAWDs (with some exceptions). Veterans, people who are unhoused, and young adults (18-24) who have aged out of the foster care system are exempt from the time limit.


ABAWDs must work at least 80 hours in a month in order to avoid losing SNAP benefits. You can meet the requirements by working, volunteering, participating in a job training program, or any combination of the three.


If you are an ABAWD and do not meet the work requirement, you will be limited to receiving only three months of SNAP benefits every three years. You can apply for and receive benefits again if you can meet the work requirement in the future.


Contact the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services at 1-800-972-2017.


Deepen Your Advocacy Skills this October

We have some upcoming opportunities this month to deepen your anti-hunger advocacy skills that you will not want to miss!

IHC Monthly Meetup on October 18

Join us for our next IHC virtual monthly meetup on Wednesday, October 18, at 10:00am. At this month’s meetup, we’ll be:

  • unveiling IHC’s 2024 legislative agenda
  • sharing advice on connecting with legislators before the session
  • learning more about the Anti-Hunger Advocacy Summit on Oct. 28

Anti-Hunger Advocacy Summit on October 28

Our friends at Save the Children Action Network (SCAN) and DMARC are teaming up to host an Anti-Hunger Advocacy Summit on Saturday, October 28 in Des Moines. More details and free registration is below! We hope to see you there!

Save the Children Action Network and DMARC believe every child deserves a strong start, and that their basic needs are met. That’s why we’re bringing advocates from across the state of Iowa for the 2023 Iowa State Advocacy Summit on Saturday, October 28, 9:00 am – 2:00 pm.

What is the Advocacy Summit?
The Iowa State Advocacy Summit is an annual event that brings together advocates from across the state for a tailored experience that includes special speakers, expert panels, fun team building activities, and skills trainings. This year, Save the Children Action Network (SCAN) and Des Moines Area Religious Council are teaming up to help anti-hunger and early learning advocates level-up their skills to be a strong presence in the community.

Why Advocacy?
Families across the state of Iowa are facing many challenges that prevent them from accessing the nutrition and early education experiences that kids need! Whether on the campaign trail speaking with presidential candidates, or holding elected officials accountable at the Iowa Capitol, children and families struggling everyday need your voice now more than ever!

Keynote Speaker

Erik Talkin, CEO of the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County

Erik Talkin is a recognized innovator and leader in America’s food bank network. His book, ‘Hunger into Health,’ with an introduction by Jeff Bridges, has been a rallying point for those who want to move from simple charity to building long-term food security. He is responsible for creating innovative national award-winning programs such as ‘Healthy School Pantry’ and ‘Kid’s Farmer’s Market’. He is a previous Board Member of the California Association of Food Banks and sat on the National Advisory Council of Feeding America.

Talkin’s book ‘Lulu and the Hunger Monster’ was written in response to the Food bank’s work with many families facing food insecurity, to help inspire kids to seek short term and long-term solutions. Two sequels to Lulu, “Jesse and the Snack Food Genie’ (looking at junk food) and ‘Frankie versus the Food Phantom’ (about the food system) have just been published. Find them at www.foodjusticebooksforkids.com.

Take Action to Protect Iowa’s Boards and Commissions

On Tuesday, August 29, the Boards and Commissions Review Committee, which was created in Gov. Reynold’s government re-alignment bill earlier this year, proposed its initial recommendations. The recommendations include eliminating or consolidating over 100 boards and commissions in the state of Iowa, including the Commission on Community Action Agencies, Board of Dietetics, Local Food and Farm Program Council, Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service, Iowa Council on Homelessness, Child Care Advisory Committee, and numerous other concerning recommendations.

The committee will submit a final report to the Governor and state legislature by September 30. Last Tuesday it was also announced that there will be ONE public input hearing on the recommendations. The public input hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, September 6, at 12:00pm in Room 103 of the Iowa State Capitol. It is scheduled to last 2 hours, and speakers will be given a maximum of 2 minutes to share their comments. If you would like to sign up to speak, you must email BCRCcomments@iowa.gov – please include your name and any organization you are representing. And even if you’re not comfortable in speaking, please show up to show that Iowans are paying attention and are concerned with these recommendations! You can also email public comments to BCRCcomments@iowa.gov.

Keep in mind – these are just recommendations. No board or commission will be eliminated on September 30. Actual elimination would require legislative action. But it’s certainly something to be concerned about, as we are only four months away from the 2024 Iowa legislative session. Now is the time to reach out to your legislators to educate them on the importance of these boards and commissions.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of context on what went into these recommendations. The entire committee process was conducted in a way to skirt public oversight. According to reporting from Caleb McCullough in the Cedar Rapids Gazette, “to create the recommendations, the six-member board was broken up into subcommittees of two members, allowing the subcommittees to meet privately without violating Iowa’s open meetings law. The recommendations were not made public before Tuesday’s meeting.”

Some of these recommendations to merge, consolidate, or eliminate boards and commissions may be making minor changes. Others would eliminate major programs. But one thing is clear – these recommendations are about consolidating power in the executive branch and limiting public oversight of state government.

Anti-hunger advocates applaud Iowa HHS’ decision to submit a plan for Summer P-EBT benefits

Anti-hunger advocates across the state are applauding the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services for their decision to submit a plan to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide summer nutrition benefits to children in Iowa through the Summer P-EBT program.

“Day after day we see more new faces at our food pantries,” said Anne Bacon, Executive Director of IMPACT Community Action Partnership. “The P-EBT Summer Benefits will help ensure that Iowa’s children will not go hungry this summer. I am so thankful that DHHS is making this happen.”

Summer 2023 P-EBT benefits will provide an estimated $28.9 million in nutrition benefits to 241,000 children in the state of Iowa, according to the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). This amounts to an estimated $120 in benefits per child who is eligible to receive free or reduced-price school meals in the state.

“Families struggling with food insecurity this summer will be greatly supported by Iowa adding the P-EBT benefits,” said Clarissa Thompson, Executive Director of Mid-Iowa Community Action. “Thousands of children in our service area of Hardin, Marshall, Poweshiek, Story and Tama counties can now know their most basic of needs, food, will be met this summer.”

“Leaving an unhealthy relationship often means losing economic security and the means to regain it,” said Lindsay Pingel, Director of Community Engagement with the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “Accessing programs like SNAP and P-EBT impacts an individual’s ability to meet basic needs and keep their families safe. Nutrition benefits enable survivors and their children to get back on their feet during this critical time. They can mean the difference between a lifetime of economic hardship and a future free from violence.”

Iowa is one of 10 states that has not yet officially submitted a Summer P-EBT plan to USDA, and has until July 14 to do so. Over 40 organizations had signed on to a letter to Iowa’s leaders, encouraging them to submit a Summer P-EBT plan to USDA before the July 14 deadline. The letter and an accompanying press release were set to be made public on June 28, but news reports on Wednesday morning indicated that Iowa HHS reversed course and now plans to participate in the program. Iowa HHS had previously stated that Iowa was not going to submit a Summer P-EBT plan to USDA.

“At a time when state-level policy decisions like the ending of boosted SNAP benefits and complicating SNAP application and renewal policies are making it harder for Iowa children to get the food they need, it is critical that we use every opportunity to draw down money that’s available to feed Iowa’s children,” said Natalie Veldhouse, Policy Advocate with Common Good Iowa. “We are thankful that HHS has decided to pursue these additional nutrition benefits that will support hundreds of thousands of children in Iowa.”

Advocates stress that the added benefits will be especially helpful right now as food banks, food pantries, and other social service agencies are seeing record-breaking numbers of Iowans turn to them for food assistance.

“Currently, the Urbandale Food Pantry is serving more families than in its entire history with an average of 1,200 youth every month,” said Patty Sneddon-Kisting, Executive Director of Urbandale Food Pantry. “We know that many children go without during the summer months and wholeheartedly welcome any opportunity that provides additional benefits to some of our most vulnerable populations.”

“In May 2023, we received nearly 2,000 lbs. of food donations to our three pantries and had to purchase another 6,000+ lbs. to keep enough food available to meet the demand in Bremer, Winneshiek, and Howard counties,” said Trisha Wilkins, CEO of Northeast Iowa Community Action Corporation. “With financial resources and physical capacity for pantry operations stretched thin, we applaud the State of Iowa for helping to ensure that available funding to support nutrition needs is pursued for Iowans.”

IHC thanks its coalition partners for their ongoing advocacy to ensure Iowan are able to access the nutritious food they need to live and thrive. The original letter from advocates that was going to be released on Wednesday, June 28, is available below.

A Letter from the Board Chair

Hey there, it’s Luke Elzinga, board chair of the Iowa Hunger Coalition. Now that Iowa’s 2023 legislative session has come to a close, and SF 494 has been signed into law, I wanted to reach out and thank you for all your advocacy this session.

It certainly wasn’t an easy or fun job to do, but together, our advocacy made a difference for Iowans. It can be hard to celebrate your victories in the face of losses (trust me, I’m the worst at this), but it’s important to do so.

Thanks to your help, and the help of all our advocates…

  • We successfully fought back against food restrictions for SNAP and brought national attention to the ridiculous proposal in House File 3 to limit SNAP purchases to the WIC-approved food list.
  • While we were unable to kill the asset test for SNAP entirely, we did successfully lobby to see the asset limit increased from $2,750 up to $15,000, with an additional exemption of up to $10,000 in value for a second vehicle.
  • We helped raise public awareness of hunger and centered the voices of people with lived experience in media interviews, subcommittee meetings, a public hearing, and press conferences.
  • We ensured SF 494 had bipartisan opposition in the House, including from members of leadership.

None of this would have been possible without all your advocacy.

We don’t have any paid staff at IHC. We have a volunteer board of directors, an amazing group of volunteer advocates (you!), and rely on dues from our members to pay for a contract lobbyist. We’ve been contracting with John and Cyndi Pederson of Pederson Consulting for the past few years and have been very pleased with their work.

Our members make this work possible. Without your support, IHC would not exist. Whether you’re an individual or organization, you can become a member of our coalition today – contributing whatever amount fits with your budget. If you’re already a member of IHC, you can expect to hear from us in the coming weeks about renewing your commitment.

Want to learn more about becoming a member of IHC? We’d be happy to talk with you about the benefits of membership and joining our coalition. Contact us at iowahungercoalition@gmail.com.

We’ll also be sharing more details about becoming a member of IHC at our next monthly meetup on Wednesday, June 21, at 10:00am. We’d love to have you join us every month for the latest anti-hunger news in Iowa!

June 2023 IHC Monthly Meetup
Wednesday, June 21, 10:00am


Collaboration is key to this work, and we would love for you to deepen your involvement with IHC. We have a number of opportunities to do so:

  • Apply to join IHC’s board of directors. Help lead the organization and provide governance through the board of directors. Board applications are due Friday, June 23. Please note: this opportunity is only available to dues-paying members.


  • Join one of IHC’s committees. Our Policy, Communications, and Outreach & Membership Committees are all in need of volunteers! If you’re interested in joining a committee, please email us at iowahungercoalition@gmail.com.
  • Attend our annual meeting on Wednesday, July 19. We’ll be hosting a hybrid event this year, with options to join online or in-person at DMARC’s headquarters on the southside of Des Moines. Connect with anti-hunger advocates from across the state and help IHC brainstorm our policy priorities for 2024!

IHC’s 2023 Annual Meeting
Wednesday, July 19, 12:00-3:30pm

The fight to end hunger in Iowa continues. Though we’ve had some discouraging policy losses recently, we’re already gearing up and getting ready for what’s next. We’ll be planning, strategizing, and training during the off-session. And with the Farm Bill debate heating up over the summer, you’ll be hearing from us again sooner rather than later.

Thanks again for all you do!

Luke Elzinga
Chair, Iowa Hunger Coalition

Statement from the Iowa Hunger Coalition on the Signing of SF 494

Yesterday, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed Senate File 494 into law. The Iowa Hunger Coalition, along with a broad coalition of advocates and groups, has been opposed to this legislation from the start, and had called on Gov. Reynolds to veto SF 494. We are disappointed in the decision by Gov. Reynolds to sign SF 494 into law, but not surprised.

The simple fact is SF 494 will remove thousands of Iowans from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The additional administrative hurdles contained in SF 494, including an asset test for SNAP, will create more barriers for struggling Iowans trying to access assistance.

SNAP enrollment in Iowa is nearing a 15-year low. Meanwhile, food banks, food pantries, and other anti-hunger organizations across the state are seeing record-breaking numbers of people turning to them for assistance. Clearly, SNAP is already inaccessible to tens of thousands of Iowans facing food insecurity. Instead of improving access to nutrition benefits, Iowa’s leaders have chosen to target SNAP and other public assistance programs Iowans rely on.

It is not lost on us that, on the day before signing SF 494, Gov. Reynolds announced $5 million in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan to support food bank infrastructure in Iowa. As the Governor rightfully stated in the accompanying release, “access to fresh foods is a challenge for those facing food insecurity and soaring inflation has made it even harder.”

We dispute, however, the Governor’s assertion that “Iowa is making long-term investments to reduce food insecurity in our communities.” Make no mistake: this one-time $5 million investment of federal funds to Iowa’s food banks will not make up for the upwards of $18 million estimated to be denied in SNAP benefits to Iowans on an annual basis as a result of SF 494. SNAP is the best tool we have in the fight against food insecurity, and private charity is not a replacement for social safety net programs.

To top it off, the bipartisan federal debt ceiling deal is poised to expand SNAP work requirements to adults age 50-54. It is estimated this will kick 9,000 older Iowans off the program. Research on work requirements has shown that they do not lead people to meaningful employment, but instead remove people from SNAP who cannot meet the requirement and leave them worse-off than they were before.

These policy changes will harm Iowa and increase hunger and food insecurity in our state. Thousands of Iowans will be negatively impacted by the actions of our state and federal government. Too many Iowans are struggling right now. Increased costs for essentials like food, housing, and health care still outpace wages. As a state, we should be coming together to make sure all our neighbors have the food they need to live and thrive. Instead, these attacks on SNAP will take food off the tables of Iowans.

SNAP in the Crosshairs in Debt Ceiling Deal

Over the Memorial Day weekend, news came out of a prospective agreement reached between President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy to raise the federal government’s borrowing limit before possible default on June 5. The budget deal includes a number of harmful provisions, including expanding work requirements for SNAP.

What exactly would the bill change?
People classified as Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWDs) are limited to only receiving three months of SNAP benefits every three years unless they are working an average of 20 hours per week. These are adults age 18-49 who do not have children in the household and are physically and mentally able to work.

The debt ceiling bill would expand those work requirements to adults age 50-54 over the course of two years. It would also disallow states from carrying over ABAWD exemptions from year to year (which is not current practice in Iowa). The bill would also provide new exemptions from the ABAWD work requirement to homeless individuals, veterans, and young adults exiting the foster care system.

What would be the impact on Iowans?
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that 9,000 Iowans would lose access to SNAP due to the new work requirements. By definition, these would be adults age 50-54 without children in the household.

The research is clear: work requirements do not lead people to find meaningful employment, they simply remove people from SNAP who cannot meet them, leaving them worse off. A recent study found that the ABAWD time limit cuts SNAP participation to those subject to it by more than half – with no effects on employment and earnings.

And we have yet to see if SF 494 will be signed into law, further restricting access to SNAP for Iowans. Meanwhile, our emergency food system is hanging on by a thread, continuing to face record numbers of people seeking assistance, with demand continuing to outpace resources.

What can you do?
You can contact your members on Congress and urge them to pass a debt ceiling bill that does not include expanding work requirements for SNAP.

Sen. Chuck GrassleyContact Here

Sen. Joni ErnstContact Here

1st Congressional District – Rep. Marianette Miller-MeeksContact Here

2nd Congressional District – Rep. Ashley HinsonContact Here

3rd Congressional District – Rep. Zach NunnContact Here

4th Congressional District – Rep. Randy FeenstraContact Here

Urge Congress to Pass a Clean Debt Limit Hike

This week, the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on Speaker McCarthy’s “Limit, Save, Grow Act of 2023.” This is also known as the debt limit bill. House Republicans are threatening not to raise the nation’s debt ceiling if the bill does not pass. WATCH: The Debt Limit Explained.

Among other provisions in the bill, the legislation would impose stricter work requirements for people age 50-55 to access SNAP. Currently this rule only applies to able-bodied adults without dependents between the ages of 18 and 49. There is also an amendment to increase the number of hours to meet this work requirement from 20 hours/week to 30 hours/week.

Research has shown that SNAP work requirements reduce the number of people participating in SNAP but do not improve employment. SNAP work requirements are associated with higher instances of mood disorders and anxiety for people subject to them. In other words, they kick people off SNAP, do not lead people to finding employment, and result in negative physical and mental health outcomes.

Please contact your US House Representative today and urge them to pass a clean debt ceiling hike – not add stricter work requirements for SNAP.

1st Congressional District – Rep. Marianette Miller-MeeksContact Here

2nd Congressional District – Rep. Ashley HinsonContact Here

3rd Congressional District – Rep. Zach NunnContact Here

4th Congressional District – Rep. Randy FeenstraContact Here

Anti-Hunger Leaders Call on Gov. Reynolds to Veto SF 494

Advocates of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will be holding a press conference Tuesday, April 18, at 10:30am in the Iowa State Capitol (south end of the Capitol Rotunda). This is a final plea to Governor Kim Reynolds to veto Senate File 494 – which would kick thousands of Iowans off SNAP and other public assistance programs.

On Thursday, April 13, SF 494 passed the Iowa House without amendment with a vote of 58-41 after nearly four hours of floor debate and 18 proposed amendments. The bill now moves to the Governor’s desk for signature.

Community advocates have voiced concerns that Iowans will lose access to SNAP and other public assistance programs due to the added administrative hurdles from SF 494. This bill would have an immediate downstream effect as people will turn to food banks and food pantries that are seeing record numbers across the state.

SNAP enrollment in Iowa is currently at a 14-year low while fraud committed by individuals enrolled in SNAP remains at a fraction of a percentile of the ~270,000 active participants in the state. This bill will increase administrative costs by millions and will also establish a third-party vendor to institute administrative oversight that will profit from it all.

Establishing an asset test and additional eligibility verification checks would remove people from the program who struggle to meet the new requirements and discourage people from applying for public assistance programs like SNAP.

Advocates encourage members of the public to contact Gov. Reynold’s office and ask her to veto SF 494.

Thank You to All Who Spoke Out Against SF 494

Thank you to everyone who attended today’s public hearing on eSF 494, submitted a public comment, and helped spread the word about the public hearing and the harm that SF 494 would cause. We are nothing without our advocates, and that means YOU! Thank you for your tireless work in opposing the bad SNAP legislation we’ve seen introduced this session.

If you missed today’s public hearing, you can watch it online below.

You can also watch a video recording of a press conference the Iowa Hunger Coalition held following the public hearing with the Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO and Save the Children Action Network to highlight the voices of people who would be directly impacted by SF 494. A special thank you goes out to Briana Jenkins for organizing this press conference!

What Comes Next?

SF 494 is now eligible for floor debate and a vote in the House. This could happen as early as next week. It’s vital we reach out to ALL members of the Iowa House and share our concerns with SF 494.

Please contact your Representative and share your concerns with them about SF 494! You can also contact Speaker Pat Grassley and House Majority Leader Matt Windschitl to ask them not to bring SF 494 to a vote in the House.

You can also write a letter to the editor or guest opinion column to your local newspaper. Legislators pay attention to these, and it’s another way to get the word out in your community about the harm that SF 494 would cause. We’re always happy to help provide talking points and advice for writing these, so reach out to us at iowahungercoalition@gmail.com if you’d like our help!