DMARC Statement on the passage of SF 494

The Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC) is disappointed to learn that Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the controversial bill, Senate File 494, into law yesterday. While we were pleased our advocacy ensured some of the most harmful proposals were ultimately not included in the final bill, SF 494 will, without a doubt, harm the health and well-being of thousands of Iowans facing food insecurity. To add insult to injury, the bipartisan federal budget bill that will inevitably be signed today is creating more unnecessary barriers to accessing SNAP across the nation.

The DMARC Food Pantry Network saw a record-breaking number of people assisted in four of the last five months, and much of this is being driven by record numbers of people seeking out food assistance for the first time or the first time in a while. The DMARC Food Pantry Network has assisted a monthly record for new individuals 13 months in a row and this rise in demand is not slowing down.

Food banks, food pantries, and other anti-hunger organizations across the state of Iowa are seeing more people turn to them to put food on the table than ever before. Meanwhile, SNAP has been a steadily more difficult program to access for the people it is designed to assist. Enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is currently approaching a 15-year low in Iowa – April 2023 saw the lowest number of people enrolled in SNAP in Iowa since July 2008. We’ve seen time and time again that when our elected officials create additional barriers to accessing SNAP or decrease benefit amounts, we see more people turning to our food pantries to feed their families.

DMARC, along with a broad coalition of advocates and groups, fought tirelessly against SF 494 this past legislative session. The new administrative hurdles put in place by SF 494 will make it more difficult for struggling Iowans to access the nutrition and medical assistance their families need to thrive. And we will certainly see even more people turning to the DMARC Food Pantry Network to make ends meet.

With the need greater than ever before, and food prices that continue to stay elevated, your support is critical at this time. Please consider hosting a food drive, making a financial contribution, or volunteering your time to the DMARC Food Pantry Network. We also encourage you to advocate with your elected officials to educate them on the realities of food insecurity and the importance of SNAP.

For those Iowans who are currently benefiting from SNAP: we see you, and we care about you. These changes will not happen overnight, and we will be monitoring the implementation of SF 494 every step of the way. DMARC is committed to helping our neighbors understand and navigate these policy changes while providing access to nutritious food in our community. Whether the facts are heard or recognized by policymakers or not, we will continue to share them. We will continue to create a space to elevate your voices so policymakers hear your stories and your perspective.

No matter the circumstances, we will continue our work to strengthen the SNAP program and fight against these wrong-headed policy changes that ignore the reality of your situation.

Finally, to all of our advocates, thank you. Your calls, emails, social media posts, personal conversations, and every other action you took to speak out against SF 494 were so important and impactful. Your unrelenting advocacy kept both our spirits and the pressure on legislators up this session! We are so grateful for all you do for the people experiencing food insecurity in our community and the work doesn’t stop here. We will keep the pressure on those who passed this bill to find solutions for Iowans battling food insecurity and we know you will be there too.

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