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Opinion | It Is Not the Time to Reduce Snap Benefits

Iowa slashed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program’s (SNAP) extension, leaving many families and individuals with higher food expenditures and fewer benefits.

In Iowa, extra SNAP benefits linked to the pandemic have stopped, leaving many individuals and families without the help they require. Food pantries in Iowa are witnessing higher demand due to the cutback, and they are trying to make up for the lack of government help.

Food is an essential requirement. Iowa’s government should prioritize ensuring that no Iowan goes hungry, and cutting SNAP payments was not the way to achieve this.

At the start of the epidemic, the federal government responded by boosting SNAP payments, unemployment benefits, and other programs in response to rising poverty and food insecurity. Iowa is one of 12 Republican-led states that have decided to opt-out of the expansion beginning this month.

Benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) were essential before and after the pandemic. With approximately 41 million individuals served, the program is the largest in the United States for combating hunger and poverty. In February, enhanced SNAP payments were sent to 15 million households in the United States.

During the pandemic, food insecurity increased by 33% in Iowa, and the distribution of SNAP benefits increased by 168 percent. Iowans who may have relied on it in the past will now have to look for alternative food sources.

This month, the Hawkeye Area Community Action Program, or HACAP, saw a 20% rise in people who used its services. Homelessness, children, veterans, energy conservation, and health and nutrition are all addressed under the HACAP. According to HACAP’s volunteer coordinator, an estimated 65 percent of the folks who came to the food pantry earlier this month had never been there before.

Other food banks have seen and responded to the effects of these cuts. Feeding America anticipates spending 40% more in the fiscal year 2022 than in previous years.

With dramatic increases in the number of Iowans in need of food assistance, it is evident that reducing SNAP payments has not been good. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has stated that reducing these supplementary benefits is vital to bring people back to work. However, Iowa has yet to address a livable wage, which means that working does not guarantee that individuals will not require assistance.

This logic is particularly problematic in light of recent price rises. Inflation has increased by 8.5 percent, with food costs rising the fastest. According to estimates, Americans pay 10% more for groceries this year than in prior years. These increases aren’t projected to stop anytime soon. As a result, many families face a double whammy of reduced SNAP benefits and rising food prices.

As a result of the inflation, it is even more essential to take action to adopt these prices.

Instead of slashing SNAP benefits in the hopes of lowering unemployment, common sense tells us that Iowa should seek methods to alleviate poverty by raising the minimum wage, expanding benefits, and investing in long-term solutions.

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Food banks should not be tasked with feeding Iowans; instead, we need our government to act and solve these needs.

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