Slashes to Iowa’s Food Assistance Program (SNAP) Budget would be devastating

The Iowa Hunger Coalition is deeply grieved and disheartened to see the proposed slashing of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in the President’s Budget. These proposed cuts would reduce the program by about 1/3, reduce benefits of current recipients, deprive families of their right to choose what’s best for their families, harm local grocers and farmers, and increase food demand that Food Banks and Anti-Hunger Organizations would not be able to meet. The Food Assistance program is a successful and essential tool in the fight to end poverty, as well as generating positive economic activity in communities.

Food Assistance is providing food security for the most vulnerable Iowans, children, seniors, the disabled, and the working poor. Per USDA, nationally, nearly two-thirds of SNAP recipients are either disabled, elderly, or children. In Iowa, over 43% of those receiving Food Assistance are minors, while approximately 10% are seniors. Over the last several years, since the beginning of the economic recovery, the number of Iowans receiving SNAP benefits has declined steadily. Between December 2016 and December 2017, almost 20,000 Iowans who had been receiving Food Assistance benefits, progressed towards self-sufficiency and no longer had to depend on Food Assistance for food security. Per Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) data, in December 2017 the average monthly benefit per person was approximately $106.82. That equates to approximately $3.54 per day in a 30-day month and $1.18 per meal. The current Iowa household average benefit of $223.86 is a mere 26.5% of the USDA Low Cost Monthly plan amount of $843.40. Although modest, SNAP benefits are critically essential to a most basic human need, eating. Food Assistance is doing exactly what it is designed to do, helping recipients become self-sufficient.

Despite the growth and expansion seen in the programs and reach of the food banks and anti-hunger organizations, it would be impossible to accommodate the additional Iowans who would need support if these cuts were to be imposed. In 2013 when benefits were cut, Iowa anti-hunger organizations saw a 20% increase in need. Nutrition is a foundational element for health and success in every facet of life. Humans cannot function, learn, work, or advance without meaningful access to food. Food Assistance provides that access for those who need it most. Accordingly, the Iowa Hunger Coalition stands opposed to these cuts and asks that you contact your Congressional Representatives at (202) 221-3121 to voice your support for Food Assistance and opposition to the proposed cuts.

For more information:
Regenea A. Hurte, Iowa Hunger Coalition
IowaHungerCoalition@gmail.com, 515-505-8628

Major Iowa Anti-Hunger Announcements at the Iowa Hunger Summit

DES MOINES, Iowa – Iowa Anti-Hunger efforts have a new face and a new organization. The Iowa Food Bank Association (IFBA) has welcomed Regenea A. Hurte as their new Executive Director. Hurte, who was previously the Public Benefits Attorney at the Virginia Poverty Law Center and Director of Virginia Hunger Solutions in Richmond, Virginia, has relocated to Iowa and continued working to give voice to those who are often overlooked. “Hunger is a significant issue in Iowa, one of the highest producing and grossing agricultural states in the country. Hunger affects us all, so I’m thrilled to work with the Food Banks who have led the fight for so long as well as other individuals and organizations that want to join the fight to end hunger for all Iowans” said Hurte. “Hunger is a primal, foundational issue that impacts every facet of life in Iowa. The success of our education system, strength of our workforce and economy, quality of life and health, and strengthening our communities are all positively impacted when individuals have quality access to nutritious, balanced meals.”

The Iowa Food Bank Association (IFBA) is a collaboration of Feeding America food banks and affiliates that serve each of Iowa’s 99 counties. Together, the food banks serve over 1,000 non-profit organizations serving children, adults, and seniors. These organizations include food pantries, emergency meal sites, congregational meal sites, emergency shelters, and other sites that provide food to clients. As an association, the organization is coordinating efforts to alleviate hunger by supporting Feeding America food banks that serve Iowa. The eight IFBA member Food Banks distributed over 26 million meals in Iowa in 2016.

Hurte has also accepted the role of Executive Director for a new organization, Iowa Hunger Coalition (IHC), a new, permanent advocacy group. IHC was formed through the collaborative efforts of Iowa food banks, food pantries, food rescue organizations, community networks, and individuals dedicated to ending hunger. Although the members use different tactics to accomplish their goals, their mission is shared. IHC will allow the members to leverage their large networks and supporters to provide greater support for relevant legislative and other governmental efforts. The IHC will work to develop and implement effective anti-hunger policies in Iowa.

IHC has set two policy priorities for the 2018 legislative session. The first is to educate and advocate on behalf of maintaining SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and its positive impact on the economy and all of Iowa. The second is to enhance state tax laws to match federal tax laws for food donations and include hunger-fighting organizations in the sales tax exemption. IHC is a membership organization. Individuals or organizations interested in becoming members or lending support should visit iowahungercoalition.org.

On being Executive Director for both organizations, Hurte said “the goal is the same, to end hunger and with the strength of the entire membership combined, we can achieve this goal.”