Over 200 Iowa Interfaith Leaders Speak Out against SNAP legislation

Re: Iowa Interfaith Leaders Speak Out Against SF 494

Dear Governor Reynolds, Lt. Governor Gregg, and Iowa Legislative Leaders,

We, the undersigned leaders from across the religious spectrum, oppose Senate File 494 on moral, religious, and humanitarian grounds. Feeding the poor is a universal value shared by all major faith traditions and all cultures. As such, we stand together to speak the truth in the face of many harmful, pervasive myths about public assistance and our neighbors in need.

Our neighbors need our help now more than ever. Food pantry usage is at an all time high as families struggle with rising costs and low wages. The vast majority (85%) of households receiving SNAP have someone working in them. Two-thirds of Iowans who benefit from SNAP are children, people with disabilities, and older Iowans. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is an efficient and effective way to address food insecurity. SNAP is a federal cash benefit that allows Iowans to purchase food their families need at local grocery stores. Every dollar of SNAP generates $1.54 of local economic benefit. Iowa receives $42 million federal SNAP dollars each month. State administrative costs have not increased in years and fraud is nearly non-existent. The Iowa Health and Human Services Department has reformed their processes to bring their error rate (underpayments and overpayments of benefits) below the national average.

SNAP is already too difficult to access and does not provide enough support. Iowans cannot qualify for SNAP unless they make less than 160% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), which amounts to $39,997 for a single parent with two children. According to the United Way’s ALICE Report, a household needs to make 200% to 250% of FPL just to survive—leaving too many of our neighbors struggling to make ends meet but still unable to qualify. The average benefit provides just $1.78 per meal, and the minimum SNAP benefit people receive is a meager $23 per month. SNAP enrollment in Iowa is at a 14-year low.

This legislation will prevent people in need from accessing assistance. Many Iowa organizations and programs that work with low-income and vulnerable populations have spoken against this bill because it creates unnecessary obstacles to food and health care. Pennsylvania discontinued a similar program after just three years due to the significant expense and harm: 14% of qualifying SNAP recipients were removed because they could not complete paperwork requirements.

Private charities cannot address the issue of food insecurity alone. According to Bread for the World, federal nutrition programs like SNAP provide more than 19 times the amount of food than private charitable sources like food banks and food pantries. Should SF 494 pass, already stressed feeding charities will be overwhelmed. For generations, interfaith leaders have stood shoulder to shoulder, united to meet the needs of their neighbors. Despite many differences, the people of Iowa share a vision for a state government that responds to challenges with effective solutions. We have a history of welcome and compassion for those in need. We seek a future where everyone has the nutritious food they need to live and thrive. We call on our legislators to craft legislation that reflects our state’s generosity and compassion.

Signatories (209):

The Rev. Wendy Abrahamsson, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Grinnell
Anupama Akella, Hindu Temple and Cultural Center
Katie Alley, Second Reformed Church
Rev. Terra Amundson, The UMC of Mt. Vernon
The Rev. Susan Bantz, Grace Lutheran Church, Muscatine
Amy Becker, Ashworth Church
Brett Becker, Collegiate Presbyterian Church
Rev. Dr. Beverlee Bell, United Methodist Church
Rev. Elizabeth A. Bell
Jason Benell, Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers
Rev. Robyn Bles, Wakonda Christian Church
The Rev. Nora Boerner, Beloved Community Initiative – Episcopal Diocese of Iowa
Rev. Timothy D. Bonney, First UMC, Indianola
Pastor David Borger Germann
Rev. Minna Bothwell, Capitol Hill Lutheran Church
Rev. Nat Bothwell, Bethlehem Lutheran Church
Rev. Kimberly Bowles, United Methodist Church
Rev. Kenneth E. Briggs Jr., Retired United Church of Christ Minister
Rev. Candice K. Brown, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Marshall J. Brown, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Denise Bubeck, The Church Ambassador Network
Rev. Sheryl Butler, Journey Road Ministries
Rev. Marilee Burns, United Methodist Church
LaTonya P. Calderon, United Methodist Church
Rev. Jill Cameron Michel, First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Coralville
Pastor Eric Carlso, Faith Lutheran Church
Rev. Kyle Carswell, St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church
Rev. Owen A. Cayton, Ankeny Christian Church
Rev. Christopher Childs, Iowa Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, Ottumwa
Deacon Larry A. Christensen, St. James Lutheran Church, Johnston
Rev. Le Anne Clausen de Montes, Center for Faith and Peacemaking – Iowa Faith Leadership Network
Christopher Congdon, First United Methodist Church, Cedar Falls
Julie Cook, Western Iowa Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Rev. Dr. Norma Cook Everist, Wartburg Theological Seminary
Robin Coughennower, Augustana Lutheran Church
Rev. Christine Cowan, Southeastern Iowa Synod, ELCA
Lewis Cox, Ames Collegiate United Methodist Church and Wesley Foundation
Eloise M. Cranke
Pastor Lisa Crow, Kalona & Wellman Asbury United Methodist Church
Bishop Amy Current, Southeastern Iowa Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Rev. Katie Dawson, Immanuel United Methodist Church
Rev. Jean Davis
Wendell R. Debner, ELCA Clergy
Pastor Ryan Downing, Faith United Church of Christ, Iowa City
The Rev. Dwight DuBois, Life of Faith Initiative
The Rev. Thomas M. Early, St. John’s by-the-Campus, Ames
Diane and Len Eberhart, Grinnell United Methodist Church
Rev. Luke Ehrhardt, West Des Moines Christian Church
Rev. Mark Ehrhardt, West Des Moines Christian Church
Joshua Feala
Travis Michael Fisher-King, St. Mark Lutheran Church, Davenport
Pastor Rachel Fredericks, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Rev. Dr. Frederick Gaddy, St. Paul AME Church, Des Moines
Rev. Stacey Gerhart, St. Thomas and All Saints Episcopal Churches
The Rev’d Patrick Genereux, Episcopal Church
Rev. Sonja Gerstenberger, St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church
The Reverend Elizabeth Gillman, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church
Leray D. Glendenning, Greater Life Community Church
Rev. Lisa Grace, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
The Rev. John H. Greve, Grace Episcopal Church, Cedar Rapids
Rev. Debra Griffin, Downtown Disciples
Janet Gross, First Lutheran Church – Holy Family Food Pantry
Pastor Kelsey Guckenberger, Christ Community Church
Jacob Guckenberger, Christ Community Church, Des Moines
Rev. Marc Haack, Trinity Episcopal Church, Iowa City
Rev. David Halaas, St. Mark Lutheran Church, ELCA, Sioux City
Bishop Lorna H. Halaas, Western Iowa Synod, ELCA
Dn. Eric Haitz, Western Iowa Synod, ELCA
George Hanusa, Retired ELCA Clergy
Rev. Dr. Melanie Hauser, Buena Vista University
Rev. Jen Hibben, Collegiate Presbyterian Church
Cindy Hickman
Mark J. Holmes
Douglas L. Holmgren, Southeastern Iowa Synod, ELCA
Louis Hoger, Perry Area Emergency Food Council
The Rev. Raisin Horn, Retired, Episcopal Diocese of Iowa
Rev. S. Hughes-Empke, Episcopal Diocese of Iowa
Rev. Timothy M. Jacobsen, St. Paul Lutheran Church
Rev. Michael Janes
Chad Jennings, St. Luke UMC
Bishop William M. Joensen, Roman Catholic Diocese of Des Moines
Muriel Johannessen, Retired Rostered Minister
Pastor Janine Johnson, Calvary Lutheran Church, Buffalo
Rob Johnson
Randy Kasch, ELCA Pastor
Rev. Scott Keele Kober, United Methodist Church
Ousainou Keita, Iowa Muslims Community
Rev. Aleese Kenitzer, Shepherd of the Cross Lutheran Church
Rev. Kirsten Klepfer, Presbyterian Church U.S.A.
Rev. Holly A. Knouse, SS Peter and Paul Lutheran Church
Rev. Megan Koch, Table Church
Rev. Luke Kuenzli, St. John Lutheran Church (ELCA)
Carmen Lampe Zeitler
Rev. Martha E. Lang, Priest of the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa
Rev. Dr. Mary Lautzenhiser Bellon, Collegiate United Methodist Church and Wesley Foundation
Rev. William Layton, St. John’s Lutheran Church of St. Donatus
Reverend Kristine Leaman, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church
Rev. Nathan J. Liedtke, New Life Lutheran Church, Norwalk
Rev. Linda Livingston, Retired ELCA Pastor
Jamie Loggins-Evans, Center for Social Ministry
Rev. Scott Lothe, St. Timothy’s UMC, Cedar Falls
Reverend Kathleen Lotz
The Rev. William Lovin, Congregational UCC, Iowa City
Katie Lowe Lancaster, First Lutheran Church, Cedar Rapids
Pastor Mark S. Luepke, ELCA Lutheran Pastor, Clinton
Heecheon Jeon, Iowa City First United Methodist Church
Bishop Kevin T. Jones, Northeastern Iowa Synod, ELCA
The Reverend Sharon Mahood, Episcopal Diocese of Iowa
Wineva P. Mahr, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Des Moines
Pastor Matthew Martens, St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, Ames
Rev. Sophie Mathonnet-VanderWell, Second Reformed Church, Pella
Steve Mathonnet-VanderWell, Second Reformed Church, Pella
Perry and Karen McCallan, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Glenwood
Dr. Kent McDougal, Christ Community Church
Rev. Jeremy McElvain, First Lutheran Church, Centerville
Vicar Paige McGrath, ELCA
Rev. Scott Meador, Lovely Lane United Methodist Church
The Reverend Kenneth B. Messer, St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral
Rev. Chuck Meyer
Evalee Mickey, Pax Christi USA
Pastor Tim Miller, Lutheran Church
Rev. Jack Mithelman, Retired ELCA Clergy
Rachel Murdock, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Rev. Dani Musselman, United Methodist Church
Rev. Andrea Myers, St. Stephen Lutheran Church, Urbandale
Sally Nadolsky, New Beginnings Christian Church
Rev. Joel Nau
Karen Nichols Dungan, United Methodist Church
Bishop R. Walker Nickless, Diocese of Sioux City
Rev. Nate Nims, Walnut Hills UMC
Pastor Andrew Nelson, Western Iowa Synod, ELCA
Rev. Bill O’Connell, St. Paul Presbyterian Church, Johnston
The Rev. Mary Jane Oakland
Rev. Del Olivier, ELCA
Rev. Christopher Olkiewicz, Windsor Heights Lutheran Church
Tim Olson, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Ankeny
Nancy Olthoff, United Campus Ministry
Pastor Roger Osbeck, Prince of Peace Lutheran Church
Pastor Paul D. Ostrem, ELCA
Carolyn Otis, Community of Christ, Coralville
Pastor Lisa Parker, Redeemer Lutheran Church
Bishop Richard Pates, Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Dubuque
Rev. Vicki Pedersen, Retired
Rev. Larry J. Peterson, Southeastern Iowa Synod, ELCA
The Rev. Peter A. Pettit, Ph.D., St. Paul Lutheran Church, Davenport
Rev. Arnette Pint, United Methodist Church
Rev. Julia E. F. Poulsen
Rev. Dr. Mark W. Pries, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
The Rev. Dr. Catherine Quehl-Engel, The Episcopal Diocese of Iowa
Rev. Ruth Ratliff, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Cedar Falls
Rev. Wade E. Reddy, Wayne Zion Lutheran Church
Susan M. Reed, Congregational Church
Sarai Rice, Retired Minister
Nancy Richards, First Christian Church
Rev. Daniel Rinehart, St. John’s Lutheran Church, Grinnell
Rev. LeAnn Robine, United Methodist Church
Rev. Lee Roorda Schott, Valley United Methodist Church, West Des Moines
Rev. Willie Rosin, Zion Lutheran Church, Muscatine
Rev. Eric Rucker, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church
Jodi Rushing, United Methodist Church
Rev. Ryan M. Russell, United Methodist Church Clergy
The Rev. Mel Schlachter, Episcopal Diocese of Iowa
Pastor Tania Schramm, Grace Lutheran Church, Adel
Rev. Jane Shepherd, United Methodist Church
Rev. Diana J. Sickles, ELCA
Anthony Smith, New Creations International Church
Rev. Victoria Safford, First Unitarian Church of Des Moines
Rev. Medea Saunders, Central Presbyterian Church
Rev. Mark Schlenker, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Jan Schnell, JustChurch
Rev. Pam Schroeder
Pat Shipley, First Presbyterian Church, Villisca
David Shogren, United Methodist Church
Monique and Craig Shore, Grinnell UMC
Rev. Tamara Siburg, Saint Paul Lutheran Church, Clinton
Dagna Simmons, Western Iowa Synod, ELCA
Rev. Diana Smith, Unitarian Universalist Society, Coralville
The Rev. Jeanie Smith, St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church
Nicole Smith, Ames First United Methodist Church
Rev. Timothy Smith, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church
Rev. Gary Sneller, Retired Pastor, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Pastor Dan Solomon
Carol Spaulding-Kruse, Des Moines Valley Friends Meeting
Rev. Travis Stanley, Norwalk Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Rev. Fred Steinbach, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church
Rev. Ryan Stevenson-Cosgrove, Trinity & Faith Lutheran Churches, Burlington
Rev. Josh Steward, UMC
Rev. Jane Stewart, New Song Episcopal Church, Coralville
The Rev. LeAnn Stubbs, ELCA, Plymouth Church, Des Moines
Pastor Erick E. Swanson, Fjeldberg Lutheran Church, Huxley
Jean Swenson, Co-Chair, Iowa Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA)
Rev. Lynn T. Thiede
Rev. Dr. Jacqueline Thompson, Burns & St. John’s United Methodist Churches
Rev. Rachel Thorson Mithelman, ELCA
John Tyson, Des Moines Mennonite Church
Matt Unger, Des Moines Area Religious Council
The Rev. Britt Vickstrom
The Rev. Cn. Meg Wagner, The Episcopal Diocese of Iowa
Rev. Beth Wartick, Resurrection Lutheran Church, Ankeny
Pastor Chad Whaley, Bethany Lutheran
Dorothy Whiston, D.Min., ABC-USA (Retired)
Rebecca Wiese, Deacon
Rev. Nathan Williams, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Rev. Dr. Ritva H. Williams, St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church, Cedar Rapids
Rev. Paul Witmer, United Methodist Church
Rev. Kathleen Wohlers, ELCA
Bishop Thomas Zinkula, Diocese of Davenport


3 Replies to "Over 200 Iowa Interfaith Leaders Speak Out against SNAP legislation"

  • Rev. Heather Wachendorf
    April 12, 2023 (5:42 pm)

    I add my name!

  • Rev.Kathleen Clark UMC retired
    April 12, 2023 (9:55 pm)

    Feeding the poor is the focus of persons who are human beings and are called to action in God’s world. We are reminded that there are hungry people not just here in Des Moines and Iowa but virtually every where in this world. In Iowa you have the duty and responsibility to allow SNAP to easier to access for all those who qualify and the amount of assistance should reflect actual cost of food to maintain a healthy diet for the recipients.

  • Pastor Dianne Prichard
    April 13, 2023 (6:30 am)

    No replies? I will share this with my Senator and ask her for a reply

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