Tell our lawmakers not to take food away from Iowans!
House File 613 and Senate File 494 are harmful bills that target SNAP and other public assistance programs. These bills would remove people from SNAP and increase hunger and food insecurity in the state of Iowa.
- The additional administrative hurdles in these bills will remove people from SNAP even when they’re eligible to receive benefits. Instituting an asset test and additional eligibility verification checks will remove people from the program who struggle to meet the new requirements and discourage people from applying for public assistance programs like SNAP.
- These bills will only increase SNAP administrative costs to the state. SNAP benefits are 100% federally funded, and the state has a 50-50 cost share on administrative costs, which have remained stable for over 10 years.
- SNAP enrollment in Iowa is currently at a 14-year low, while food banks and food pantries across the state are breaking all-time records. Iowa should be exploring ways to improve access to SNAP, such as increasing the income eligibility for SNAP from 160% to 200% of the federal poverty level, and investing in the Double Up Food Bucks program. These bills are a step in the wrong direction for Iowa.
How can you help?
Real stories from real Iowans can stop these bills, 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 legislation by taking action:
- Contact your Representative and Senator and ask them to vote “NO” on these bills. You can find your legislator online.
- 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.
Get the latest statistics on SNAP use in Iowa
What exactly is in these bills?
These bills do have some differences, but are largely similar. The harmful proposals in both of the bills include:
- Establishing an asset limit for SNAP. Households would face a limit of $15,000 in assets. The value of a household’s primary residence, retirement accounts, and one vehicle would be excluded, as well as $10,000 in fair market value of a second vehicle. Even children’s savings accounts would count toward the asset limit for the household.
Iowa is currently one of 36 states that does not have an asset limit for SNAP. Most states have moved away from asset limits for SNAP, and with good reason. Asset limits have been shown to discourage people who are eligible from applying for SNAP, increase administrative costs, and discourage people from saving for emergencies. Iowans well below the asset limit are likely to struggle with the additional administrative hurdles put in place and lose access to SNAP benefits.
Case study: Pennsylvania established an asset limit for SNAP in 2012, only to reverse course three years later. Ending the asset test in 2015 resulted in a $3.5 million annual savings to the state by removing administrative burden. During the first year the test was established in 2012, nearly 4,000 households lost or were denied benefits due to their financial resources. At that same time, some 110,000 households were denied benefits simply because they failed to provide proper documentation.
- Requiring public assistance program applicants to complete a computerized identity authentication questionnaire to receive benefits. While this may have the potential to increase access for some people (those with transportation or medical barriers, or without access to the required forms of identification), it also presents a significant access barrier to many people, especially those without internet access, limited credit history, or limited English proficiency.
This requirement would go against USDA regulations for SNAP. Were this new computerized identity authentication process an option, not a requirement, it would have the potential to increase access for SNAP applicants and would be in-line with USDA regulations.
- Establishing a new real-time eligibility verification system for public assistance programs. The state would have the ability to contract with a third-party vendor to perform real-time eligibility cross-checks from a host of data sources on households enrolled in public assistance programs. If these eligibility checks flag a discrepancy for a household, they will be provided written notice, and would be required to respond within 10 days.
Additional Proposals Included in HF 613
- Banning soda and candy from SNAP purchases. Over 60% of SNAP participants report the affordability of healthy foods as a barrier to achieving a healthy diet throughout the month. This policy avoids the root causes of food insecurity—low wages and lack of access to affordable nutritious food, child care, housing, health care, transportation, and other basic household essentials.
Household food expenditures are not significantly different between SNAP and non-SNAP households. This is a punitive policy that would increase stigma for people enrolled in SNAP. Everyone deserves a treat now and again.
IHC supports a $1 million state appropriation for Double Up Food Bucks, which is included in the bill, but the funding is currently contingent upon USDA granting Iowa a waiver to restrict SNAP purchases of soda and candy. USDA has never granted this type of waiver and we believe it is highly unlikely to happen. Maine was denied a waiver to restrict soda and candy from SNAP both under the Obama administration in 2015 and under the Trump administration in 2018.
- Requiring able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) to participate in the SNAP Employment & Training program as a condition of eligibility for SNAP. Evidence has shown that stricter work requirements for ABAWDs reduce SNAP participation and do not improve employment or earnings.
- Creating work reporting requirements for Iowans in the Medicaid expansion population as a condition of receiving medical assistance. Again, these requirements have not been shown to meaningfully improvement employment or earnings.
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