Jan 27, 2023 - Politics

Iowa lawmakers back off severely restricting SNAP eligible foods

Illustration of a slice of bread with peanut butter in the shape of a worried face

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Iowa Republicans say they plan on amending a bill that would have severely restricted what food SNAP recipients could buy at the store.

  • After a debate yesterday morning, the bill will just restrict candy and non-zero calorie pop purchases, pending USDA approval.

Driving the news: The first draft of House File 3 prompted national outrage due to a section limiting the foods SNAP recipients could purchase to a state-approved WIC list.

  • WIC, which is meant to be a supplemental aid for women, infants and children, doesn't allow for the purchase of a wide range of basic groceries, such as fresh meat and white bread.

Yes, but: Advocates from food nonprofits say there are still several issues with the bill that could hurt low-income families, including requiring an "asset test" to qualify for SNAP.

  • The test requires the state to consider a household's bank accounts, vehicles and cash on hand.

What they're saying: Requiring an asset test could create a cliff effect that hurts low-income families trying to save money for a down payment or their kids' college education, said Lina Tucker Reinders of the Iowa Public Health Association, during the meeting.

  • Working parents could also risk losing SNAP, especially if they're in a rural area and may need two vehicles, said Luke Elzinga of DMARC.

The other side: House Republican Ann Meyer said the bill's intention is to ensure the "right people" are receiving SNAP benefits.

  • "They're all your tax dollars," Meyer said.

What's next: The bill passed the subcommittee and will be considered again during the session.


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