2024 State of Iowa Legislative Recap

The 90th General Assembly of the Iowa State Legislature adjourned on Saturday, April 20, after a final flurry of legislative activity. In the following weeks, legislation was sent to Gov. Kim Reynolds for signature. Now, we can finally provide an update of what happened this legislative session – we’re sorry to have kept you waiting!

Choose Iowa Food Purchasing Pilot Project

One positive development this legislative session was the Choose Iowa Food Purchasing Pilot Project, which was included in an agriculture appropriations bill (SF 2421) and signed into law on May 9, 2024. This is a new pilot program that will be administered by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS). The bill provides $300,000 in matching funds to schools, food banks, and emergency feeding organizations to purchase fresh produce, meat and poultry, dairy products, eggs, and honey produced by a farm or business that participates in Choose Iowa.

While this is a small investment, and there are still many questions about how the pilot will be administered, we are happy to see movement in our legislature to support local food purchasing incentives for schools, food banks, and other anti-hunger organizations. We will be sure to provide more details and updates on the Choose Iowa Food Purchasing Pilot Project as they become available.

Advocates at the Iowa Food System Coalition’s Local Food and Farm Day on the Hill on January 25, 2024.

Stopping Harmful Legislation

Thanks to the work of a multitude of advocates, many harmful bills were stopped this legislative session, including two the Iowa Hunger Coalition actively opposed.

The first bill, HF 2608, would have created additional barriers for eligible non-citizens to access public assistance programs, as well as adding a vague “smuggling” provision to Iowa criminal code. This bill was unnecessary, costly, and harmful. It was one of three anti-immigrant bills introduced this session in the House Judiciary Committee.

And while HF 2608 did ultimately not advance out of Committee, another anti-immigrant bill, SF 2340, did pass both chambers and was signed into law by Gov. Kim Reynolds on April 10, 2024. Two different lawsuits have already been filed in response, one by the U.S. Department of Justice, and another by civil rights groups.

Our friends at Iowa Migrant Movement for Justice have been doing some amazing work organizing and advocating against harmful anti-immigrant legislation in our state. Please check them out if you haven’t already!

The second bill, SSB 3175, would have further criminalized homelessness and created “camps” for unhoused people. This bill appears to be the first foray into Iowa by the Cicero Institute, an Austin-based think tank that pushes laws to criminalize homeless encampments across the country. Thankfully, there was a broad coalition of opposition to this bill, and it died quickly this session—but we can assume this is not the last we’ve seen of this effort in Iowa.

Guaranteed Income Ban Signed into Law

A bill that prohibits cities and counties from implementing guaranteed income programs, HF 2319, was signed into law by Gov. Kim Reynolds on May 1, 2024. The Iowa Hunger Coalition lobbied against this bill, and was disheartened to see it signed into law.

There is currently only one guaranteed income pilot operating in Iowa, UpLift: The Central Iowa Basic Income Pilot. Preliminary purchasing data from UpLift shows that 40.8% of all funds have been spent on groceries – the single largest of all categories of spending.Despite this new law, the UpLift pilot study will still be able to be completed, and a final evaluation report is expected in spring 2026. The guaranteed income ban was model legislation of Opportunity Solutions Project, a Florida-based free market think tank, which has introduced similar legislation in a number of other states.

Lack of Meaningful Action to Address Hunger and Food Insecurity

Ultimately, we did not see meaningful action to address hunger and food insecurity during the 2024 Iowa legislative session, despite a number of bipartisan, commonsense policy proposals.

IHC board chair Luke Elzinga speaks during a Summer EBT rally on January 17, 2024.

Double Up Food Bucks
State investment in the Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB) program has been a longtime priority of IHC and other groups. We were encouraged at the start of the session to see the introduction of HF 2022, which would provide $1 million in state funding for Double Up Food Bucks. The bill was sponsored by three House Republicans: Rep. Shannon Latham, Rep. Chad Ingels, and Rep. David Young.

We believe the best way to encourage healthy eating among SNAP participants is to incentivize the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables, which can often be prohibitively expensive. Double Up Food Bucks does exactly that. Despite broad bipartisan support, the state failed to act on Double Up Food Bucks in the 2024 legislative session.

Healthy School Meals for All
Last session, Rep. Sami Scheetz recruited nearly 20 House Republicans to co-sponsor HF 575, which would expand free school meals to all students who qualify for reduced-price school meals. The bill was still eligible for the 2024 session, but House Education Committee Chair Rep. Skyler Wheeler declined to assign the bill a subcommittee, stopping any forward momentum.

One exciting development was the introduction of HF 2368 by Rep. Matthew Rinker (a Republican), which would provide universal free school lunch in Iowa. Unfortunately, the bill language dropped the day before the first funnel deadline, and never really stood a chance.

Grocer Reinvestment Fund
While there was some initial momentum behind creating a Grocer Reinvestment Program and Fund, this measure failed to get past the legislative finish line. Rep. Brian Lohse and the Center for Rural Affairs spearheaded this effort, and the bill language went through multiple revisions (the most recent of which was HF 2599). There were some great bipartisan negotiations around this bill, including the inclusion of a $100,000 grant program for fresh fruit and vegetable processing championed by Rep. Chad Ingels. Unfortunately, this program was not included in the final budget for the state.

Summer EBT
The single best return-on-investment for Iowa’s state legislature in combating hunger and food insecurity is Summer EBT. After Gov. Kim Reynolds announced December 2023 that Iowa would not be participating in the new federal childhood nutrition program, IHC spoke out, launched a petition, organized a sign-on letter, and rallied at the Capitol, demanding the state reverse course. Summer EBT would provide $29 million in food assistance for 245,000 low-income Iowa kids.

Democrats introduced bills in the House (HF 2140) and Senate (SF 2039) that would direct the state to participate in Summer EBT. Rep. Chuck Isenhart also introduced a separate bill in the House (HF 2042), which in addition to directing the state to participate in Summer EBT, would direct $700,000 to conduct a research study on the nutritional outcomes of Summer EBT, as well as providing $2.8 million in funding for Double Up Food Bucks. None of these bills advanced.

Thank You for Your Ongoing Advocacy

Thank you to all of our anti-hunger advocates from across the state for your hard work during the 2024 legislative session! We had a few small wins this session, but with food banks, food pantries, and other anti-hunger organizations across the state facing record-breaking need, our state government needs to start getting serious on this issue.

In just a few months, we’ll be holding our 2024 Annual Meeting (more details coming soon). I hope you can join us during the legislative “off-season” to strategize how we can ensure Iowa’s state legislature prioritizes addressing hunger and food insecurity in 2025. Thank you for all you do!

House Farm Bill Proposal Threatens SNAP Purchasing Power

Last week, the lull of activity surrounding the Farm Bill burst back to life with the release of two competing frameworks. U.S. House Committee on Agriculture Chairman Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) released a title-by-title overview of the Farm Bill, and U.S. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) released a summary framework of the Farm Bill in the Senate: The Rural Prosperity and Food Security Act.

The Farm Bill is a massive piece of legislation touching on a wide variety of programs and policies, and the nutrition title (Title IV) covers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and certain other federal nutrition programs. Congress usually passes a Farm Bill every five years, but last year passed a one-year extension through September 30, 2024.

In the 2018 Farm Bill, Congress directed the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to modernize and reformulate the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP). The Thrifty Food Plan is the lowest-cost of four food plans developed by USDA FNS, and is used to calculate benefit amounts for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). In October 2021, the modernized Thrifty Food Plan was implemented, leading to the first permanent increase to SNAP purchasing power in nearly 50 years.

Now, a provision included in the House Farm Bill framework would restrict future updates to the Thrifty Food Plan that are currently set to occur every five years (outside of annual cost of living adjustments). And while this proposal wouldn’t undo benefit gains already realized from the TFP modernization as some have proposed (including Iowa’s own Senator Chuck Grassley), it would prevent future scheduled increases.

Chairman Thompson’s proposal to freeze future Thrifty Food Plan updates would cut SNAP by $30 billion over the period of 2027-2033, including an estimated cut of $170 million in SNAP benefits for Iowans. Because the Thrifty Food Plan is used in funding formulas for other nutrition programs, it would also lead to cuts to The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), Summer EBT, and Puerto Rico’s Nutrition Assistance Program block grant.

Iowans need a Thrifty Food Plan that continues to stay up to date with the times.

  • From October 2021 to March 2024, the TFP modernization led to over $306 million in additional SNAP benefits for Iowans struggling with hunger and food insecurity.

  • Without the TFP modernization, Iowa households would be receiving $67 less in SNAP benefits on average every month, and individuals would receive $1.11 less every day.

  • Based on Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates, freezing TFP updates (outside of inflation adjustments) would cut $170 million in SNAP benefits to Iowans over fiscal years 2027-2033, and would also deal cuts to The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP).

  • Iowans need a Thrifty Food Plan that continues to stay up to date with the times—not preventing future benefit increases and leaving people struggling to put food on the table.

Tell your member of Congress: keep SNAP benefits up to date—don’t restrict Thrifty Food Plan updates!

Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks
Iowa's 1st Congressional District
DC Office: (202) 225-6576
Contact via email

Rep. Ashley Hinson
Iowa's 2nd Congressional District
DC Office: (202) 225-2911
Contact via email

Rep. Zach Nunn
Iowa's 3rd Congressional District
DC Office: (202) 225-5476
Contact via email

Rep. Randy Feenstra
Iowa's 4th Congressional District
DC Office: (202) 225-4426
Contact via email

Legislative Advocacy Update: 2nd Funnel

Last Friday, March 15, marked the 2nd funnel in the Iowa State Legislature – a self-imposed deadline to narrow the number of bills that are still up for consideration this session. We saw one bad bill advance past the 2nd funnel, and another get killed (though the majority party always has mechanisms to revive legislation). Appropriation bills do not need to meet the funnel deadline. So, here’s where things stand:

HF 2319 – Basic Income Ban

House File 2319, a bill that would ban cities and counties from implementing basic income programs, has passed the House, passed out of Senate State Government Committee, and is now eligible for floor debate in the Senate. This bill specifically targets UpLift: The Central Iowa Basic Income Pilot, which is currently operating in three central Iowa counties, and is the only basic income pilot operating in the state of Iowa.

On Monday, March 4, the Iowa House passed HF 2319 in a 55-43 vote. Seven House Republicans (Jane Bloomingdale, Austin Harris, Chad Ingels, Brian Lohse, Brent Siegrist, Hans Wilz, and David Young) joined all House Democrats in voting no.

HF 2319 was referred to the Senate, where it was placed in the State Government Committee. A subcommittee of Sen. Scott Webster, Sen. Mike Bousselot, and Sen. Tony Bisignano was held on Tuesday, March 12. Despite a passionate appeal to kill the bill by Sen. Bisignano, HF 2319 advanced out of subcommittee in a 2-1 party line vote. It then advanced out of the full Senate State Government Committee the next day, again on a party-line vote.

While food banks, food pantries, and other anti-hunger organizations are facing record-breaking need, instead of taking action to address food insecurity, our state legislature is more interested in preventing cities and counties from exploring innovative solutions to addressing poverty and economic mobility.

Please contact your Senator today and urge them to vote NO on HF 2319.

HF 2608 – Non-citizens and Public Assistance

HF 2608 failed to pass out of the Senate Judiciary Committee before the 2nd funnel deadline. Division I of this bill would add a redundant process for verifying citizenship status for non-citizens applying for public assistance, and Division II would add a vague “smuggling” provision to Iowa criminal code.

Advocates spoke out loud and clear in opposition during the Senate subcommittee meeting, with only one person speaking in favor of the bill. Iowa Migrant Movement for Justice has been leading the resistance to HF 2608 and other anti-immigrant bills this session. Advocates from the Iowa Catholic Conference, Catholic Charities, and the Catholic Worker House were also vocal critics – stressing that the smuggling provision could be used to target individuals and organizations who see welcoming immigrants as part of their religious calling.

Thankfully, HF 2608 is now considered “dead,” though the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Steven Holt, has indicated he may attempt to add the smuggling provision as an amendment to another bill. Stay tuned, and learn more about HF 2608.

Appropriations Bills

Bills that deal with spending, or appropriations, are considered “funnel-proof” and do not have to adhere to the funnel deadlines. We have been following a number of appropriations bills, but have yet to see meaningful movement on them:

  • HF 2022 – Double Up Food Bucks. This bill would appropriate $1 million in state funds toward the Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB) program, which is administered by the Iowa Healthiest State Initiative. It would also be eligible for a federal match through the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP). DUFB helps SNAP benefits go further when purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables. Double Up Food Bucks is triple win for Iowa!

  • HF 2599 – Grocer Reinvestment Fund. This bill would create a grocer reinvestment program, a local produce processing grant program, and a $2 million annual fund for both programs. HF 2599 has been spearheaded by the Center for Rural Affairs and Rep. Brian Lohse. We are pleased to see provisions in the bill that would help direct funds to grocery stores in low and moderate income areas that redeem SNAP and WIC benefits.

  • Local Food Purchasing Assistance Program (LFPA) and Local Food for Schools (LFS). We continue to advocate for state-level funding to continue the work of the LFPA and LFS programs. While there is not an active bill, we are still pursuing ways to find a home for an appropriation to help schools, early childhood centers, senior centers, food banks, food pantries, and other feeding organizations purchase more locally-grown food.

Please contact Rep. Gary Mohr, Chair of House Appropriations, about these priorities!

Legislative Advocacy Update: 2 Weeks to First Funnel

The Iowa legislature has finished its fourth week of the 2024 session, and just two weeks remain before “first funnel” – the deadline for the majority of bills to have passed out of committee in order to continue through the legislative process. Things are moving quickly! Keep reading for the latest updates from the Capitol.

IFSC’s Inaugural “Food and Farm Day on the Hill” is a Success!

Members of the Iowa Food System Coalition gathered on Thursday, January 25, for the inaugural “Iowa Food and Farm Day on the Hill.” Advocates spoke with legislators about the importance of local food systems in our state, and legislation to support state investment to build on the success of existing initiatives, such as Local Food for Schools (LFS), Local Food Purchasing Assistance Program (LFPA), and Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB).

The Iowa Hunger Coalition is a member of the Iowa Food System Coalition and is involved in IFSC’s Local Food Policy Network Team.

February 15: Healthy School Meals for All Day on the Hill

Iowa Healthy School Meals for All Day on the Hill
Thursday, February 15
Iowa State Capitol Rotunda, 1st Floor

Advocates will be gathering to talk with legislators about the importance of healthy school meals for all! Register below, or contact schoolmealsforalliowa@gmail.com with any questions!

Updates on Legislation We’re Monitoring

HF 2112: Unnecessary, Costly, and Harmful

On Tuesday, January 30, a subcommittee meeting was held for House File 2112, which IHC opposes. HF 2112 would ban undocumented immigrants from SNAP and other public assistance programs (surprise, this is already current law in Iowa). The bill also adds a vague and potentially harmful “smuggling” provision to the Iowa criminal code.

While the bill did advance out of subcommittee in a 2-1 vote, the subcommittee chair, Rep. Steven Holt, indicated he may be open to removing Division I of the bill (the piece concerning public assistance programs).

ACTION ITEM: Contact Rep. Steven Holt and ask him to strike Division I of HF 2112.

You can also contact all members of the House Judiciary Committee and ask them to oppose HF 2112 when it comes before the full committee for a vote.

HSB 552: Banning Basic Income Programs

Also in the House Judiciary Committee, HSB 552 would ban cities and counties from implementing basic income programs. Rep. Steven Holt, who introduced the bill, stated that this is a response to UpLift: The Central Iowa Basic Income Pilot, which he views as “socialism on steroids.” The Iowa Hunger Coalition is opposed to HSB 552.

While full results of the UpLift study will not be complete until 2026, we do know from preliminary purchasing data that 40.8% of all funds have been spent on groceries – the single largest of all categories of spending, with other top categories including retail sales/service (27.5%), transportation (12.4%), and housing/utilities (9.6%).

HSB 552 already passed out of subcommittee on January 18, and advanced out of the full House Judiciary Committee yesterday (February 1). It is now eligible for debate, but we do expect there will be an amendment when it does come to the floor. It will also be renumbered.

ACTION ITEM: Contact your Representative and ask them to vote NO if it comes to the House floor for a vote.

HF 2022: Double Up Food Bucks

House File 2022 would provide $1 million in state funding to the Double Up Food Bucks program administered by the Iowa Healthiest State Initiative. It is sponsored by three House Republicans: Rep. Shannon Latham, Rep. Chad Ingels, and Rep. David Young.

A subcommittee has still not been assigned for HF 2022, but given that it is in Appropriations and is thereby “funnel-proof,” the timeline is not as tight. Legislators are focusing on bills that must meet the funnel deadline right now, and often Appropriations bills do not take center focus at the start of the session.

ACTION ITEM: After the first funnel deadline, we’ll be stepping up pressure to get a subcommittee assigned. For now, reach out and thank the sponsors of the bill:

Rep. Shannon Lathamshannon.latham@legis.iowa.gov
Rep. Chad Ingelschad.ingels@legis.iowa.gov
Rep. David Youngdavid.young@legis.iowa.gov

SSB 3074/HF 2176: Grocer Reinvestment Grant Program

SSB 3074 and HF 2176 are companion bills spearheaded by the Center for Rural Affairs and Rep. Brian Lohse. The Iowa Hunger Coalition is in support of these bills. This legislation is still being actively discussed, with expected amendments forthcoming. It has passed out of subcommittees in both the Senate and House on 3-0 votes. Both subcommittees have been productive, bipartisan conversations.

The intention of this legislation is to provide a grant program for grocery store infrastructure projects, with a focus on areas with low grocery store access. We see this as a positive bill to increase food availability in areas of high need, and low access – especially in rural areas of the state.

ACTION ITEM: Contact members of the Senate Commerce Committee and House Economic Growth and Technology Committee, and ask them to advance these bills in Committee.

HF 575: Expanding Free School Meals

House File 575, which was introduced last session, would expand free school meals to students who qualify for reduced-price meals, expanding access to over 20,000 students in the state.

Despite the fact that a significant number of House Republicans are co-sponsors of this bill, the House Education Committee Chair, Rep. Skyler Wheeler, has said he will not assign a subcommittee meeting for this bill due to ideological opposition. While this is a frustrating setback, we’re exploring other options for how to keep this policy idea alive beyond the first funnel.

ACTION ITEM: Contact the bill’s sponsors to thank them and ask them to advocate with Rep. Wheeler on this issue.

Thank you for your ongoing advocacy!

HF 2112 is Unnecessary, Costly, and Harmful

HF 2112 would require all non-citizen applicants for public assistance programs in the state of Iowa to be verified through the Systematic Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) program administered by the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and add a vague “smuggling” provision to criminal code.

A subcommittee meeting for HF 2112 has been scheduled for Tuesday, January 30, at 12:00pm in Room 102 (Supreme Court Consult Room). Please contact the members of the subcommittee below and ask them not to advance HF 2112!

Rep. Steven Holtsteven.holt@legis.iowa.gov
Rep. Skyler Wheelerskyler.wheeler@legis.iowa.gov
Rep. Rick Olsonrick.olson@legis.iowa.gov

HF 2112 would add unnecessary barriers to access public assistance while increasing costs to the state.

  • Iowa already utilizes the SAVE system to verify non-citizen status for public assistance programs— Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Family Investment Program (FIP/TANF), Hawk-i, and Medicaid—when it cannot be verified by other authorized means.

  • While SAVE can produce results quickly, that is not always the case. The additional verification response time for SAVE is seven federal workdays, and in some cases, can take 10-20 federal workdays. When Iowa is already severely out of compliance with federal requirements related to SNAP application processing timeliness, we cannot afford to create additional hurdles and delays.

  • Using the SAVE system can be costly to states. In FY 2024, the non-federal agency charge per verification case for SAVE was $1.00, but that is set to triple to $3.10 per case by FY 2028. 

The bill would further chill participation in public assistance programs in mixed-status households.

  • SNAP participation among eligible citizen children living with a non-citizen has fallen considerably in the last few years, especially following the “public charge” final rule announcement in August 2019 (which was later reversed in September 2022).
  • HF 2112 reinforces harmful anti-immigrant rhetoric that may prevent mixed-status households from enrolling eligible children in SNAP and other public assistance programs.

HF 2112 could cause confusion and fear among organizations assisting immigrant populations.

  • Vague language in the “smuggling” provision (Division II) is cause for concern among organizations providing assistance to immigrant populations, and could contribute to racial profiling.

  • The bill could inhibit many nonprofit organizations from fulfilling their missions and providing vital services across Iowa’s communities, rural and urban alike.

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 

IHC Slams Gov. Reynolds’ Decision to Deny Iowa Kids Summer EBT Benefits

The Iowa Hunger Coalition (IHC) strongly condemns the decision by the state of Iowa not to participate in the new federal nutrition program, Summer EBT. This program would have provided each child who is eligible for free or reduced-price school meals an additional $40 per month to use for food during June, July, and August. This means 240,000 children in Iowa will not receive $120 in food assistance during the coming summer of 2024.

“This is an unconscionable decision,” said Iowa Hunger Coalition board chair Luke Elzinga. “Announcing three days before Christmas that we’ve deliberately chosen not to feed hungry kids? The Dickensian parallels write themselves.”

In the announcement, Gov. Kim Reynolds stated that “an EBT card does nothing to promote nutrition at a time when childhood obesity has become an epidemic,” and HHS Dir. Kelly Garcia stated, “another benefit card addressed to children is not the way to take on this issue.” The Iowa Hunger Coalition could not disagree more strongly with these sentiments.

“The idea that low-income Iowans can’t be trusted to make their own choices about what to feed their kids is incredibly insulting,” said Elzinga. “We’ve somehow decided that parents know best when it comes to school curriculum but not what to feed their kids? Starvation is not a legitimate strategy to reduce childhood obesity.”

Low-income families routinely face struggles in accessing nutritious food due to its high cost. A 2021 USDA study found that the number one reported barrier from SNAP participants to eating healthier was the high cost of healthy food. Hundreds of thousands of Iowans are struggling to put food on their tables right now, and the need is especially high for families with children. An additional $120 in nutritional benefits during the summer would be a huge boon to helping these families provide healthy food for their children.

“An abundance of academic research has made clear the link between food insecurity and obesity in the United States,” said Elzinga. “Gov. Reynolds and Dir. Garcia are either woefully uninformed on this issue, or are using childhood obesity as a distraction from the failures of their administration to address hunger and food insecurity. Their press release praises the fact that enrollment in SNAP is at a 15-year low in Iowa, but when we have food banks and food pantries across the state assisting record-breaking numbers of people, that should be worn as a mark of shame, not a badge of honor.”

The Iowa Hunger Coalition also pushes back on the idea expressed in the press release that Summer EBT is a “COVID-era” program. Summer EBT is the first new federal nutrition program in two decades, and was created by an act of Congress in December 2022. While similar to the Pandemic-EBT program, pilot programs for Summer EBT date back to 2011. The program provides income-eligible families with an EBT card loaded with benefits, similar to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Food pantries routinely see increased numbers of people seeking assistance during the summer.

“Hunger is a policy choice, and this is just one more unfortunate example of that fact,” said Elzinga. “Summer EBT should be a bipartisan no-brainer policy win for Iowa’s kids. The Iowa Hunger Coalition will be making this an issue with the Iowa legislature in 2024. We can not and will not accept this disastrous decision by Governor Reynolds. It’s deplorable that Iowa’s leadership has chosen to make feeding children a political issue.”

While the press release states that Iowa will “continue to support Iowa children eligible for food assistance year-round by enhancing and expanding already existing childhood nutrition programs,” it does not provide any specifics.

“Iowa has clear opportunities to address hunger and food insecurity through smart, bipartisan policy change,” said Elzinga. “We can invest in the Double Up Food Bucks program to promote the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables by SNAP participants. We can expand free school meals to more children in Iowa. We can support our local and regional food systems. At a bare minimum, we should be able to provide nutritional assistance to low-income children through Summer EBT. Instead of seriously addressing the issue, Iowa’s leadership seems more interested in spreading narratives and enacting policies that harm poor people.”

IHC Denounces Sen. Grassley’s Call to Cut SNAP to Pre-Pandemic Levels

The Iowa Hunger Coalition (IHC) denounces calls by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) to cut benefits for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to pre-pandemic levels. 

Sen. Grassley’s proposal would cut benefits by $73 per month for the average SNAP household in Iowa, slash the minimum benefit from $23 per month to $19 per month, and lead to a loss of nearly $15 million in overall economic activity to the state of Iowa every month.

Right now, hundreds of thousands of Iowans are struggling to put food on the table. Food banks and food pantries across the state are facing record-breaking need. Meanwhile, SNAP enrollment in Iowa is at a 15-year low. SNAP is already largely inaccessible to many Iowans facing hunger and food insecurity, and benefits do not go far enough. To call for cutting SNAP at this time is at best misinformed.

In a December 7 letter to House and Senate leadership co-authored with Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), Sen. Grassley called for cutting SNAP benefits to pre-pandemic levels in the next Farm Bill, which was recently extended by Congress to September 30, 2024:

Returning SNAP to pre-pandemic levels is another important policy reform that must be enacted in the farm bill reauthorization…In order to tame inflation felt by every American family, we must return to the pre-pandemic level of spending in SNAP and make sure any further updates are done at zero-cost.

In policy terms, Sen. Grassley is calling to undo the permanent increase to SNAP benefits that took effect in October 2021 after USDA FNS modernized the Thrifty Food Plan, leading to the first permanent increase in SNAP purchasing power in nearly 50 years. IHC commended the action of USDA FNS on the modernization of the Thrifty Food Plan.

Undoing the TFP modernization would slash SNAP benefits by an estimated 27%. What does that look like in Iowa? From estimates based on the state of Iowa’s October 2023 F-1 SNAP participation report:

  • The average monthly household benefit would decrease from $342.87 to $269.98 (a loss of about $73 per month)

  • The average daily benefit for individuals would decrease from $5.66 to $4.46

  • The average per-meal benefit for individuals would decrease from $1.89 to $1.49

  • The minimum monthly benefit would decrease from $23 to $19

  • $9.7 million less in SNAP benefits coming into the state every month, which translates to a loss of $14.9 million in economic activity in Iowa every month

This would be absolutely devastating to the nearly 268,000 Iowans currently participating in SNAP. Cutting SNAP would harm the health and wellbeing of Iowa’s families, rural communities, and local economies. The emergency food system would face an even greater strain. Iowans are already facing difficult decisions like putting gas in the tank or food in the fridge. The last thing we need to be doing is cutting SNAP benefits.

What Can You Do?

Contact Sen. Grassley’s office and let him know you do NOT support cutting SNAP!

Call Sen. Grassley’s Washington D.C. office at (202) 224-3744.

You can also help spread the word by sharing this blog post and the social media graphics below.

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.