‘There needs to be a robust public safety net’ - Hearing held for SNAP Benefit bill
DES MOINES, Iowa (KCRG) - Iowa lawmakers may cut supplemental food benefits to people in households that have assets worth more than 27 hundred dollars.
Iowans spoke out Wednesday morning as a State senate subcommittee considers changes to the “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program,” better known as “SNAP” or “food stamps.”
Senate Study Bill 1105 would put into place what’s called an “asset test” for those looking for assistance. The test would consider property and savings for eligibility for nutrition supplements.
SNAP benefits are funded by the federal government, but the state pays for half the administrative costs.
That asset test is one of the most controversial aspects of the bill being considered by lawmakers.
If the bill passes, households would be looking at an asset limit of $2,750, or $4,250 if the household contains a person with a disability or someone 60 years of age or older.
Those assets can include bank accounts, cash on hand, and property other than “personal belongings, household goods, and one vehicle”.
Opponents of the bill say it will kick needy people out of the food program. Supporters say that’s not its intent.
”The SNAP program is the most. Effective, efficient and successful. Program to feed hungry people,” said Linda Gorkow, Executive Director for the Iowa Food Bank Association
Iowans could soon see changes coming to the state’s SNAP benefits program.
Subcommittee member Senator Jeff Edler says the changes would ensure the funds allocated to the program going to where they need to go.
”We have this misconception that this bill kicks people off, that is not true, this bill. Disenroll someone who was not eligible to be on from the start,” said Senator Jeff Edler.
But those who oppose the bill said it will do the exact opposite.
”I would very strongly disagree with that statement that this bill would not cut people off of the SNAP program,” said John Boller, Executive Director for the Coralville Food Pantry.
John Boller, the Executive Director for the Coralville Food Pantry, said more Iowans than ever before need access to food assistance, and food pantries are just one resource.
”There needs to be a robust public safety net, and that’s the snap program. So if you do monkey around with eligibility pieces for the SNAP program, you will inevitably kick families off who need assistance. And according to some legislators, they don’t think those people deserve the assistance when, from our perspective, we know that now more than ever, people need additional help,” said Boller.
Linda Gorkow, Executive Director for the Iowa Food Bank Association said because families’ situations are always changing, having the asset test will put another barrier up for those needing assistance.
”The concern with a lot of different things that we’re looking at is you know people, people are in a lot of different situations and we know the reality of living today. So we’re just looking at the bill and say is this really the right thing for Iowans? We want to ensure that Iowans who need food can receive it,” said Gorkow.
The subcommittee approved the bill, sending it to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee for its consideration.. Again, both Boller and Gorkow said you should contact your state lawmakers if you have concerns about the bill.
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