Faith Leaders, advocates inspire state to change course on food aid for school-age children
Facing public pressure from lawmakers, food insecurity advocates, and faith leaders, Iowa will plan to pursue federal food aid for school age children after initially stating they didn’t intend to apply.
The Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC) distributed a letter signed by over 100 faith leaders from across the state of Iowa encouraging Gov. Kim Reynolds, Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg, and DHHS Director Kelly Garcia, to submit a proposal to the US. Department of Agriculture for summer P-EBT assistance for school-age children.
DMARC stands alongside the interfaith community in applauding HHS for taking action for the children of our state.
Iowa is just one of ten states that have not yet applied to this program which would provide an estimated $28.9 million in nutrition benefits to 241,000 children in the state of Iowa (according to the Food Research and Action Center). Iowa Health and Human Services must submit a proposal before July 14th in order to be eligible to receive funding.
Pandemic EBT or P-EBT was distributed in fall 2022 and supplied direct funds to be used at local grocers for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participants and School Age Children. During the time payments were being distributed, the DMARC Food Pantry Network saw a decline in the percentage of individuals under the age of 18 utilizing a food pantry site.
The funding for 2023 is estimated to be $29 million dollars or $120 per child, and school-age children who are eligible for free or reduced school lunch will be eligible to receive benefits. Action by Congress in December 2022 created a permanent, nationwide Summer EBT program that will begin in 2024.
Read the full letter:
Re: Iowa Interfaith Leaders – feeding hungry children this Summer the right thing to do
Dear Governor Reynolds, Lt. Governor Gregg, and Director Garcia,
Feeding the poor is a universal value shared by all major faith traditions and all cultures – this is especially true when it comes to feeding children.
We, the undersigned Iowa leaders from all across the religious spectrum call on the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services to submit a plan to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide summer nutrition benefits to children in our state through the Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) program.
At a time when our neighbors need our help now more than ever, we cannot lean on Private charities alone to address the issue of food insecurity. Since other pandemic assistance programs ended, feeding agencies across our state have been struggling to keep up with rising need. Food Pantries in every community are breaking records. Existing summer feeding programs alone are not able to reach every child in need this year.
Iowa needs to use every available resource to reduce food insecurity in our communities, especially for our youngest neighbors. According to Feeding America, 1 in 11 children in Iowa face hunger. Extensive research has shown, children facing household food insecurity will face a higher risk of developmental and behavioral problems, as well as additional health concerns. The P-EBT program benefits children directly, providing the nutrition assistance they need when school meals are not available.
Iowa is just one of 10 states that have not yet applied to this program which would provide an estimated $28.9 million in nutrition benefits to 241,000 children in the state of Iowa (according to the Food Research and Action Center). But time is running out, our state Health and Human Services Agency must act before July 14th.
The many diverse faith traditions and communities of belief in the state of Iowa have a moral imperative to create a future where everyone has the nutritious food they need to live and thrive. Every action to ensure the health and wellbeing of Iowa’s children is an investment in the future of our state and benefit to all people.
We call on our state leadership to take the necessary steps for our state to take part in this common-sense food assistance program. It is a tragedy to let children go hungry when help is available. We call on our state in this challenging time to do the right thing—and feeding children is always the right thing to do.
Rev. Alejandro Alfaro-Santiz, Trinity Las Américas
Rev. Ryan Arnold, St. John’s Lutheran, Des Moines
Rev. Susan Bantz, Grace Lutheran Church, Muscatine, IA
Rabbi Emily Barton, Tifereth Israel Synagogue
Amgad Beblawi, United Presbyteries of the Plains, Iowa
Dr. Brett Becker, Presbyterian Church (USA)
Amy Becker, Ashworth Church
Rev. Dr.. Beverlee Bell, United Methodist Church
Rev. Dr Mary L Bellon, Ph.D., Collegiate United Methodist Church and Wesley Foundation
Jarad Bernstein, Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines
Bishop Kennetha Bigham-Tsai, United Methodist Church
Rev. Minna Bothwell, Capitol Hill Lutheran Church
Rev. Nicola Bowler, St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral
Rev. Steve Braudt, United Methodist Church Of Wilton
Kyle Carswell, St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church
Rev. Brian E. Carter, Aldersgate United Methodist Church
Pastor John Chaplin
Jan Christensen, Presbytery of Prospect Hill
Pastor Brent Clark, Ashworth Church & Ashworth Community Development Corporation
Pastor David B. Clark, Shenandoah, First UMC
Rev. Megan M. Clausen, Faith Lutheran Church, ELCA
Rev. Le Anne Clausen de Montes, Center for Faith and Peacemaking
Lewis Cox, Collegiate United Methodist Church and Wesley Foundation
Pastor Lisa Crow, Kalona & Wellman United Methodist Church
Debora Crowley, Interim Mission Center President, Community of Christ
Bishop Amy Current, Southeastern Iowa Synod, ELCA
Diane Daniels, SALUD-Multicultural Health Coalition of Storm Lake
Rev. Katie Z. Dawson, Immanuel United Methodist Church
Len Eberhart, United Methodist Church
Megan Eide, St. Paul Lutheran Church
Lori Ann Elbermawy, First United Methodist Church
David Endriss, First United Presbyterian Church of Winterset
Pastor Rachel Fredericks, Chariton Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Pastor Gray Fredericks, Chariton Christian Church
Rev. Frederick Gaddy, St.Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church
Pastor Wayne Gallipo, St. John Lutheran Church, Sioux City, IA
Pastor David Halaas, St. Mark Lutheran Church ELCA
Tom Chapman, Archdiocese of Dubuque
Rev. Jodi Hinrichs, Peace Lutheran Church, Adel
Rep. Lindsay James, State Representative
Heecheon Jeon, Iowa City First United Methodist Church
Rev. Patricia Johnson, St. Thomas Episcopal Church
Bishop Kevin T Jones, Northeastern Iowa Synod, ELCA
Rev. David Koehler
Deborah Leksell, Good Shepherd Episcopal Church
Rev. Kathleen Lotz, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Rev Mary Madison, Children & Families First Inc.
Rev. Sharon Mahood, Retired priest, Episcopal Church
Rev. Eve Mahr, St. Andrews Episcopal Church
Rev. Peter W. Marty, St. Paul Lutheran Church
Susan W Marty, Madison Market
The Rev Jean McCarthy, St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral
Rev. Chuck Meyer, Augustana Lutheran Church, Sioux City
Rev. Jack L Mithelman, ELCA Clergy (retired)
The Rt. Rev. Betsey Monnot, Episcopal Diocese of Iowa
Rev. Andrea J. Myers, St. Stephen Lutheran Church (ELCA)
Sally Nadolsky, New Beginnings Christian Church
Rev. Karen Nichols Dungan, United Methodist Church
Rev. Del Olivier, First Congregational United Church of Christ
Rev. Dr. Timothy V. Olson, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church
Merry Orcutt, Trinity Las Americas United Methodist Church
Pastor Paul D. Ostrem, ELCA
Rev. Eric Pasanchin, Ankeny Presbyterian Church
Rev. Joshua Patty, Regional Minister & President,
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the Upper Midwest
Rev. Peter A. Pettit, PhD., St. Paul Lutheran Church, Davenport IA
Rev. Dr. Doug Pfeiffer
Rev. Bill Poland, Iowa Conference of the United Methodist Church
Rev. Dr. Catherine Quehl-Engel, Episcopal Diocese of Iowa
Pastor Laurie L. Riley, Janesville and Hudson United Methodist Caurches
Rev. Ryan M. Russell, United Methodist Church
Monique Scarlett, Unity in The Community
Rev. Mel Schlachter, Episcopal Diocese of Iowa
Rev. Mark Schlenker, ELCA
Rev. Tania Schramm, Grace Lutheran Church – Adel
Pastor Susan Simmons, Shell Rock Valley Parish
Baljit Singh Virdi, Iowa Sikh Association
Anthony Smith, Johnson County Interfaith Coalition
Nicole Smith, Ames First United Methodist Church
Clare Smith-Larson, Capitol Hill Christian Church
Nermin Spahic, Islamic & Cultural Center Bosniak
Rev. Travis Stanley, Norwalk Christian Church
Rev. Jane Stewart, New Song Episcopal Church, Coralville, IA
Rev. Peter Strobel, Plymouth Congregational Church United Church of Christ
Jean Swenson, Iowa MFSA, co-chair
Pastor Rachel Thorson Mithelman
Rev. Douglas Tiffany, Hospice Chaplain/Lutheran Pastor
John Tyson, Des Moines Mennonite Church
Rev. Trevor Vaughn, Immanuel United Methodist Church
Rev. Katy Warren, St. Paul Lutheran Church, Davenport
Diane Wasson Eberhart, Retired United Methodist Church Clergy
Dana welser, Madison market
Kit J. Whan, Madison Market/ St Paul
Pastor Alaire Willits, United Methodist Church
Rev. Kathleen Wohlers, ELCA (retired)
Rev. Dr. Jared Wortman, Plymouth Congregational Church
Bishop Thomas R. Zinkula, Diocese of Davenport