House File 3 Would Increase Food Insecurity in Iowa
Last week, House File 3 was introduced in the Iowa House with 39 co-sponsors.
While we were pleased to see a $1 million appropriation for the Double Up Food Bucks program included in the bill (a top legislative priority for DMARC), there are a number of harmful proposals related to public assistance programs in HF 3. As such, DMARC is registered against the bill and encourages Iowans to speak out against this misguided piece of legislation.
Specifically, House File 3 would:
- Limit SNAP purchases to only foods on the WIC-approved food list. This is an incredibly narrow and prescriptive list that only includes 23 categories of food items. Iowans could no longer use their SNAP benefits to purchase meat, nuts and seeds, flour, butter, cooking oil, soup, canned fruits and vegetables, frozen prepared foods, snack foods, herbs, spices – not even salt or pepper. This is a punitive policy that will do nothing to improve the health and nutrition of Iowans, but rather be a detriment.
- Establish an asset test for SNAP. Households would face an asset limit of $2,750, or $4,250 if the household contains a person with a disability or someone 60+ years of age. While there are some exemptions, households with more than one vehicle would be at risk of losing their SNAP benefits.
- Impose a work requirement on Iowans in the Medicaid expansion population. Iowa Health and Wellness Plan members would be required to spend 20 hours per week working, volunteering, participating in work-training, or any combination of the three. Similar policies attempted in other states led to people being removed from the program, even those who were exempt or meeting the work requirement, because they couldn’t keep up with reporting requirements.
- Require SNAP enrollees to participate in the SNAP Employment & Training program. The bill prohibits the state from providing any exemptions to the SNAP Employment & Training (E&T) program. We have questions about how this would impact access to the program and potential unintended consequences.
- Require custodial parents to cooperate with the child support recovery unit in order to be eligible for SNAP. By definition, custodial parents have children in their household. There is not a way to implement this provision that does not take food away from children.
- Require all public assistance program applicants to complete a computerized questionnaire to confirm their identity. While this could eliminate barriers for some, it creates additional barriers for others. We believe this could be improved by making the computerized identity authentication process an option, not a requirement.
Right now, food banks and food pantries are assisting more people than ever before. Meanwhile, the number of Iowans enrolled in SNAP is at a 14-year low, with lagging participation in the program. We should be exploring policies that would improve access to nutritious food for Iowans, not push them off SNAP and dictate what they’re allowed to eat.
You can help kill this bill by taking action today. Contact the 39 co-sponsors of House File 3 and ask them to drop their support for the bill.
For more information on House File 3 and how to stay engaged, please visit the “Protect SNAP” landing page put together by our partners at the Iowa Hunger Coalition.